Effect Of Microbial Activities On External Ear Infection

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The external ear is exposed to various microbes and is a micro-environment in itself. It harbours various bacteria and the health of the external auditory canal is decided by the interplay of various factors like moisture, pH, cerumen and trauma to skin. AOE is the inflammation of the external auditory canal mostly due to bacterial aetiology that results in acute pain and discomfort in the ear. The first case of AOE was described by Toulmousch in 1838 and later systematically described by Mayer in 1844. It was initially thought to be a fungal infection [1] .

Investigations initiated during World War II firmly established bacterial aetiology of otitis externa [2,3] . In 1968 Chandler described various aspects of the disease of external ear and organisms were found to be specific for a geographic location and hence a study that would measure common causative organisms of AOE at a given time and a given place is necessary. Microorganisms can be cultured even from the normal external auditory canal, but their mere presence will not account to any pathology in the ear canal [4,5] .

It is also important to find out if the common commensals present in auditory canal can cause disease. The aim of this study was to understand the microbiological flora of the normal ear, compare it with the flora of an ear with AOE and to study their significance in etiology. We tried to highlight the need for culture to understand the microbiologic profile and their antibiotic sensitivity. An attempt was made to understand the effect of factors like role of dominant hand on the disease causation and to evaluate the role of normal canal flora and anaerobes in the aetiology.

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