The ear is an unique organ-the principal structure involved in both hearing and balance. Although not common, problems with the ear may be encountered in specific sporting populations. Common conditions affecting the ear in the athlete include otitis externa, an infection of the external ear; external auditory canal exostoses, or abnormal bony growths in the canal; and otitis media, an infection of the middle ear. Given its position on the head, the ear is subject to trauma, often resulting in an auricular hematoma. Divers, due to pressure changes on descent and ascent, are subject to both ear barotrauma and ear decompression sickness. This article will discuss recognition, treatment, and prevention of these conditions affecting the ear in the athlete.
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