Ear Canal Infections, a.k.a. otitis externa, swimmer’s ear – Also known as “swimmer’s ear,” outer ear canal infections result from bacteria or fungus causing the canal to swell. Moisture in the air or swimming makes the ear more susceptible to this type of ear infection. Symptoms include severe pain, itching, redness and swelling in the outer ear that leads to a “plugged” feeling and often muffled hearing. There also may be some fluid drainage. Pain is worse when chewing and even touching the outer ear can be quite painful. Treatment of otitis externa usually requires ear drops and can be simple to manage if caught early. Complications from untreated otitis externa may include hearing loss, recurring ear infections, or bone and cartilage damage. Sometimes an ENT can help the process by clearing out the infection in the office with specialized instruments. Most outer ear infections resolve with appropriate treatment in about a week.