Otomycosis is a fungal inner ear infection, caused due to various commonly occurring fungal strains in the environment namely Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus fumigatus and sometimes, Candida species as well.
In those whose immune system is functioning optimally, a heightened resistance to fungal particles and other external pollutants is present, thereby preventing them from contracting this infectious ear condition.
However, people who have a weakened immune system are naturally predisposed to get affected by otomycosis. Other risk factors include living in warm, tropical climates, trauma to the ear from using hearing aids or earbuds, suffering from type 2 diabetes mellitus as well as swimming in contaminated water.
Yet another factor which increases the likelihood of otomycosis developing in an individual is the lack of ear wax or cerumen synthesis. This viscous secretion that is intrinsically produced in the inner ears of a normal person actually combats fungal and bacterial germs from clogging the ear canal and also prevents the ear channels from entirely drying out.
It is always advised to seek immediate medical attention upon experiencing discomfort, difficulty hearing or a ringing sensation in the ears, as it could be a case of otomycosis, which, if left untreated, could grow into a massive lump and permanently result in deafness.
The typical symptoms of otomycosis usually present in only one ear at a time, but can rarely arise in both ears at once and comprise:
- Redness and inflammation in the outer ear
- Constant itching in the ears
- Flaky skin around the ears
- Coloured discharge arising from inner ears
- Ringing sensation emerging from within the ear canals as in tinnitus
- Minor instances of loss of hearing
- Heaviness and clogging in the ears
Diagnosis And Treatment:
The ear doctor, also known as an ENT specialist (Ear-Nose-Throat) or otolaryngologist, carefully evaluates the external indications in the patient and then uses an otoscope to examine the ear drum and ear canal, for the presence of any detrimental secretions.
The healthcare provider then obtains a tissue sample from the ear of the patient and analyses it under the microscope, to determine if a fungal or bacterial strain is triggering the infection in the inner ears.
Once the diagnosis of otomycosis is confirmed, the medical practitioner initiates an appropriate course of treatment for the same.
First, a thorough cleansing of the ear is performed, to remove any fungal mass present and inhibit the further propagation of the microbes.
Then, over-the-counter as well as prescription ear drops, containing antifungal agents, are recommended, to be applied routinely in the affected areas of the ears.
In severe instances of otomycosis, or in situations where the infection does not respond to antifungal ear drops, the medical professional prescribes oral drugs, to strongly counter the proliferation of fungus in the ears and alleviate all symptoms of pain and discomfort completely