Treatments for swimmer's ear include a gentle cleaning but often extend to antibiotic ear drops to deal with the infection. Patients who leave the infection untreated develop intense levels of pain. In rare cases, the infection spreads to surrounding cartilage and bones, leading to hospitalization, notes WebMD.
In some cases, swelling and excess drainage in the ear canal keep the antibiotic ear drops from reaching the site of the infection. The doctor often inserts a skinny piece of dry sponge, about an inch long, into the ear, gently moving it past the blockage. The doctor then applies drops to this sponge, waiting for them to drip down into the canal on the other side of the blockage. In most cases, this produces relief within six to eight hours. The doctor may give the patient a prescription for oral antibiotics to keep fighting the infection, as well as prescription pain medication depending on the severity of the discomfort, as stated by WebMD.
While the infection is healing, it is important to keep water from entering the ear. If improvement from the infection does not come within 72 hours, the doctor may decide to prescribe a different antibiotic to fight the swimmer's ear, notes WebMD.