What are common complaints of a patient who presents with symptoms of otitis externa (OE)?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Patients with otitis externa (OE) may complain of the following:

  • Otalgia, ranging from mild to severe, typically progressing over 1-2 days
  • Hearing loss
  • Ear fullness or pressure
  • Tinnitus
  • Fever (occasionally)
  • Itching (especially in fungal OE or chronic OE)
  • Severe deep pain – If this is experienced by a patient who is immunocompromised or diabetic, be alerted to the possibility of necrotizing (malignant) OE
  • Discharge – Initially, the discharge may be clear and odorless, but it quickly becomes purulent and foul-smelling
  • Bilateral symptoms (rare)
  • Frequently, a history of exposure to or activities in water (eg, swimming, surfing, and kayaking)
  • Usually, a history of preceding ear trauma (eg, forceful ear cleaning, use of cotton swabs, or water in the ear canal)

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!