Otitis externa is a fairly common ear condition that is said to affect around 10% of people at some point in their lives. While it can cause a range of symptoms, many sufferers might wonder, can otitis externa cause hearing loss? Here’s all you need to know.

Otitis externa explained

Otitis externa typically causes inflammation in the external ear canal. Usually, this is as a result of a bacterial infection, but the redness and swelling associated with this condition can also be caused by irritation, allergies or a fungal infection.

Moisture in the ears often provides the ideal conditions for bacteria to grow, and for otitis externa to develop. It’s for this reason that this ear affliction is also referred to as swimmer’s ear, as swimmers, whose ears are more likely to get water in them, are prone to this condition.

However, you don’t need to be a swimmer to suffer from otitis externa, as any kind of damage to the ear, such as excessive scratching or inserting cotton buds, or if you have a weak immune system, can increase the risk of developing symptoms. This condition tends to affect one ear rather than both.


Most people who have otitis externa present with a range of symptoms such as pain in the ear, an itchy ear, scaly skin around the ear, a red or swollen ear, discharge from the ear and tenderness when the ear or jaw is moved.

Can otitis externa cause hearing loss?

If you’re wondering, ‘can otitis externa cause hearing loss?’, then the short answer is yes, in some sufferers it can. However, the good news is that this is normally only temporary. Your hearing might feel muffled, and may be exacerbated by a feeling of fullness or pressure within the ear.

Whether you experience temporary hearing loss or other symptoms caused by otitis externa, it’s essential that you seek help from your GP, who will usually prescribe some ear drops. Symptoms should improve within a few days, including the temporary hearing loss.

However, some people experience chronic otitis externa, where symptoms can persist for months or even years, so you may need to be referred to a specialist for further advice and treatment if this is the case.

Whatever the causes of otitis externa, it’s a good idea to try to prevent the problem from occurring in future, such as reducing the amount of moisture that enters the ears. If you go swimming frequently, for instance, you should wear a cap or ear plugs.

Rarely, otitis externa can lead to further complications, such as an inflamed or perforated eardrum. This can also result in temporary hearing loss, as well as pain and discomfort.

Seeking help

Although hearing loss is only temporary for sufferers of otitis externa, because this condition can lead to further complications that may damage the ear and hinder hearing, it’s important to seek help straight away.

Whether you’re experiencing hearing loss from otitis externa or from something else, our experts can conduct hearing tests in Livingston to find out more about your hearing. Where hearing loss isn’t temporary, we can provide hearing aids in Livingston to help restore your hearing again. Get in touch with our experts today.