Ear infection symptoms include a severe pain inside the ear, a fever, and an itchiness inside and around the ear.
It could also cause a sensation of pressure inside the ear, difficulty hearing, and scaly skin around the ear.
Discharge could run from the affected ear. It may be thin and watery, or thick and pus-like.
Symptoms can last for for several months untreated, but usually only last a few days with treatment, according to the NHS.
“In some cases, the symptoms of [outer ear infection] can persist for several months, or sometimes years,” said the NHS. “This is known as chronic otitis externa.”
The long-term condition can lead to a build-up of thick, dry skin in the ear canal. This can narrow the canal, and eventually lead to hearing loss.
Ear infections could be caused by earwax being pushed down the ear canal.
NHS Choices said: “Don’t try to remove a build-up of earwax yourself with a cotton bud. This can damage your ear and push the wax further down.”
Using eardrops, bought from a pharmacy, could soften the wax so it falls out naturally.
The condition could also be caused by an allergic reaction, or irritation to something that’s come into contact with the ear. That could include earphones, shampoo, or even sweat.
Fungal and bacterial infections may be causing the ear infections.
The same fungus that causes thrush could be to blame, while common bacterias Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa are usually the causes of bacterial infections.
Avoid ear infections by wearing ear plugs or a swimming hat over ears while swimming, or avoiding shampoo getting into ears while showering, the NHS advised.
Ear infections can usually be treated with ear drops, prescribed by a GP.
Symptoms could be eased by taking painkillers, and by gently swabbing the outer ear to remove any discharge.
If the infection is caused by a boil in the ear, placing a warm cloth over the ear could help it to heal faster.
If symptoms don’t improve, the doctor may send the patient to a specialist. Irrigation or syringing ears could treat the condition – where water is injected into the ear canal to dislodge any earwax.