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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Ear infections

03/15/2010

Question:

If I put any thing in my ears at all I get an ear infection. Even if I use earphones to listen to the radio that doesn`t go right in to the ear I still get an ear infection. I would love to be able to use earphnes. Can you explain what might be going on to cause the ear infection and if there is any thing that I can do to prevent it?

Answer:

This question has been forwarded by Women's Health: An outer ear infection, or an infection that develops in the ear canal, occurs when the skin of the canal is disrupted and allows the entry of bacteria.  Therefore, putting anything into the ear canal, such as Q-tips, can potentially cause infection if used too roughly thereby traumatizing the skin.  Swimmers often get this sort of infection as well, because the constant water exposure can macerate the skin which also can allow the entry of bacteria.  Headphones that do not enter the ear canal should not cause an infection, unless you wear them excessively and perhaps thereby cause too much moisture and the build up of debris.  Your best bet is to consult an ENT physician when you have an "infection"; an evaluation at that time should provide an appropriate diagnosis and avenue of therapy.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati