Otomycosis or fungal ear infection results in an inflammation of the outer ear and the ear canal. It usually affects the ear lining causing pain and itchiness in the area. Although this ear infection is hardly a serious medical condition, it might become chronic if someone is affected by it more than once. There are different types of ear fungus affecting human ears that might result in serious ear problems, which include: Aspergillus fumigates, Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis.
Fungal Ear Infection Causes
Fungus usually thrive in areas which are humid and warm. The unique structure of the external auditory canal contributes to the development of this form of otitis externa or ear infection. Since the external auditory canal is warm, dark and prone to becoming moist, it is common to see bacterial and fungal growth in the ears. The other factors which make it easy for infections to grow is the thin skin of the ear canal which is easily traumatized and the curve at the point where the cartilage meets the bone hindering the exit of debris, secretions and foreign bodies. The presence of hair, can be a further impediment. The causes of fungal ear infections include:
- Moisture in the ears due to swimming, perspiration or high humidity
- Water contaminated with bacteria
- High environmental temperatures
- Insertion of foreign objects such as cotton swabs, ear plugs, fingernails or hearing aids
- Chronic dermatological diseases such as eczema, psoriasis or acne
- Other trauma to the ear canal
It is observed that fungal ear infections affect people with weakened immune systems such as those who are HIV-positive or have a history of respiratory disorders. The Aspergillosis fungi can be particularly threatening in people who are already ill. Also people living in dusty environments with high humidity and heat are especially prone to fungal infections in the ears.
Fungal Ear Infection Symptoms
In addition to inflammation and pain, fungal ear infections can result in certain symptoms. Some of these ear infection symptoms in adults include:
- Scaly, dry skin
- Pruritus or an itching sensation
- Severe discomfort
- Visible masses of debris containing the fungal hyphae. The fungal hyphae are protruding filaments which allow the fungal infection to grow
- Production of pus
- Tinnitus (ringing of the ear)
- Hearing loss and impairment
Fungal Ear Infection Treatment and Diagnosis
To diagnose the fungal infection the doctor may need to assess the symptoms by collecting a sample of the visible debris using sterile swabs or forceps. The sample examination should display the presence of fungal hyphae or spores. Once an accurate diagnosis of a fungal ear infection is made the debris causing the blockage has to be removed by aspirating it out. An ENT specialist may use an otoscope to make sure the debris is completely removed from the ear canal before treating it with topical anti-fungal medication. In addition to this there are many home remedies for ear infections which you can use to effectively treat ear fungus including a preparatory ear cleanse which also includes ear candling.