Swimmer's Ear: What You Need to Know

Want to know everything there is to know about swimmer's ear in NZ? Let’s break it all down. As avid advocates for ear health in New Zealand, we believe that knowledge is the first step towards optimal ear health. In this post, we dive deep into what swimmer's ear is, how it differs from other ear infections, swimmer's ear wax removal, and best practices for treatment.

Understanding Swimmer's Ear in NZ

Curious about swimmer’s ear in NZ? Swimmers ear is an outer ear canal infection that can result from water remaining in the ear after swimming, allowing bacteria to grow. Symptoms typically include pain, itching, and possibly hearing loss. It's particularly prevalent among regular swimmers and in humid environments.

Swimmer's Ear vs. Ear Infection Symptoms

One of the most common questions we encounter is about the difference between swimmer's ear vs. ear infection symptoms:

Swimmer's Ear:

  • Pain when the outer ear is tugged or pressed on.
  • Itching in the ear canal.
  • Mild hearing loss or muffling.

Middle Ear Infection:

  • Pain deep inside the ear.
  • A feeling of fullness or pressure.
  • Fever and general illness symptoms.

It's important to differentiate between the two because while swimmer's ear affects the ear canal, a middle ear infection affects the air-filled space behind the eardrum.

Can You Fly With Swimmer's Ear?

If you're a frequent traveller, you might wonder, "Can you fly with swimmers ear?". The answer is not straightforward. Flying can potentially exacerbate the pain of swimmer's ear due to changes in cabin pressure. While it's not strictly unsafe, it can be uncomfortable. If you have an upcoming flight, it's advisable to consult a medical professional or an expert at The Ear Clinic.

Swimmer's Ear vs. Middle Ear Infection

While we touched upon the symptoms above, let's delve deeper into the distinctions between swimmer's ear vs. middle ear infection:

  • Origin: Swimmer's ear originates from trapped moisture in the ear canal, often post-swimming, leading to bacterial growth. On the other hand, a middle ear infection results from other illnesses like cold or sinus infection, causing fluid build-up behind the eardrum.
  • Treatment: Swimmer's ear usually requires topical treatments, while middle ear infections might need oral antibiotics or even drainage procedures in severe cases.

Swimmer's Ear Wax Removal and Suction

One of the most effective treatments for swimmer's ear, especially when caused by trapped wax, is swimmer's ear wax removal. At The Ear Clinic, we utilise a technique called swimmer's ear suction which involves using specialised equipment to gently suction out the trapped wax and fluid. Swimmer's ear suction not only alleviates the immediate symptoms but can also prevent further complications.

Surfer's Ear

It's worth noting a condition often mistaken for swimmer's ear, known as surfer's ear. While swimmer's ear is an infection of the outer ear canal, surfer's ear involves bone growth in the ear canal. For those interested, we offer comprehensive surfer's ear wax removal and surfer's ear treatment & prevention techniques. Also, regular ear canal cleaning can go a long way in preventing both of these conditions.


Swimmer's ear, though common, should not be taken lightly. Prompt attention and treatment are essential for swift recovery and to prevent complications. At The Ear Clinic, our team is dedicated to providing expert care and guidance on all ear health matters. If you suspect you're suffering from swimmer's ear or any ear-related condition, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Your ear health is our top priority – so you can get back in the water!