Fungal ear infection

Fungal ear infections

Otomycosis is a fungal ear infection that affects the outer ear.
It can cause loss of hearing in one ear (or a reduced level of hearing in the affected ear), redness and pain. The discomfort level will differ depending on the severity of the condition and your pain threshold.

Symptoms of a fungal ear infection

Here are some of the main symptoms you might experience if you’re suffering from a fungal ear infection:

  • Redness
  • Soreness
  • Itchiness
  • Thick, yellow discharge (can be black or white)
  • Ear fullness
  • Hearing problems, including a loss of hearing

You should speak GP if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

Image showing ear

Different fungi cause ear infections

More than one type of fungus can cause otomycosis, so it might be hard to know for certain which one’s responsible. It’s believed that one kind, aspergillus, is behind about 75% of fungal infections. Candida is the next most common, while phycomycetes and the rhizopus are rarer still.

Some of these fungal species only exist in certain environments which affects your chances of developing otomycosis.

What to expect if you think you’ve got a fungal ear infection

A fungal ear infection needs to be diagnosed by your GP or a qualified medical practitioner. It’s important for your GP to know your full medical history. If you have diabetes or a weaker immune system, you’re more likely to suffer from a fungal ear infection.

Otomycosis can sometimes be misdiagnosed as an outer ear infection. The symptoms can be similar and bacterial infections are more common than fungal.

But a fungal ear infection won’t respond to antibiotic ear drops, so if your condition doesn’t change after using this kind of medication, it’s possible a fungus is to blame.

Your doctor will need to take a sample of any discharge from your ear and get it analysed to know whether your infection is caused by a fungus.

Most people can be treated effectively, although for some, particularly elderly patients, there is a concern that the infection can spread, so they’ll need more support.

Image shows elderly couple talking to an audiologist

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Fungal ear infection FAQs

Other types of ear infections

Outer ear infections (otitis externa)
Can either be an acute infection or a chronic condition.

Outer ear infection

Middle ear infections (otitis media)
Middle ear infections are the most common, especially in younger children.

Middle ear infection