Do you know that you or your child can have an Ear Infection due to a number of reasons?
Earn infection can be due to bacterial or viral infections.
Moreover, they can either affect your middle ear, the part of your ear just behind your eardrum, as well as the outer and inner ear.
However, in most cases, they often clear up on their own.
Bt can be painful due to inflammation or fluid buildup.
It is important to note that ear infections can be chronic or acute.
Acute ear infections are painful, however, short in duration.
While chronic ear infections either do not clear up or recur many times.
They can also cause damage to the middle and inner ear, which is infrequently permanent.
Keep on reading to learn more about ear infections in detail.
Symptoms of Ear Infection
Some of the common symptoms of ear infection are:
- a persistent feeling of pressure inside your ear
- mild pain or discomfort inside your ear
- pus-like ear drainage
- hearing loss.
Moreover, these symptoms might persist or come and go.
Symptoms may occur in one or both of your ears.
Pian is often more severe with a double ear infection, which is an infection in both ears.
On the other hand, chronic infection symptoms may be less noticeable than those of acute ear infections.
Symptoms of an Ear Infection in Children
Along with the symptoms observable in children, such as ea pain and drainage, young children and babies may also show other signs of ear infections.
These are rubbing or pulling their ear, fever, not reacting to certain sounds, and headaches.
Moreover, frequently losing balance, fussiness or restlessness, and loss of appetite are some signs and symptoms of ear infection in children.
Often ear infections last fewer than 3 days, however, they can persist for up to a week.
If your child is younger than 6 months of who has a fever or other ear infection symptoms, you should visit your doctor.
Seek medical attention if your child has a fever higher than 102°F (39°C) or severe ear pain.
Causes of Ear Infection
Ear infections can occur due to a bacterial or viral infection, especially the bacteria streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilium influenza.
Moreover, they often result from the blockage of your Eustachian tubes.
This causes fluid to build up in your ear.
Eustachian tubes are small tubes that run from each of your ears directly to the back of your throat.
Causes of Eustachian tube blockage are:
Allergies, colds, sinus infections, excess mucus, smoking, and changes in air pressure.
Moreover, ear infections can develop from infected adenoids.
Your adenoids are glands on the roof of your mouth, behind your nose.
It helps to protect your body from infections.
This infection can spread from these glands to the nearby ends of your Eustachian tubes.
Risk Factors for an Ear Infection
Ear infections most commonly occur in young children as they have short and narrow Eustachian tubes.
About 80% of children develop an acute infection at some point.
If you bottle-feed your infant there is a higher incidence of ear infections than via breastfeeding.
Some of the other factors that can increase the risk of developing an infection are:
- pacifier use
- react illness or an ear infection
- being male
- lack of access to health care
- altitude changes
- changes in temperature and humidity
- exposure to cigarette smoke
- being in daycare
Potential Complications of Ear Infection
It is important to note that ear infections often clear up on their own.
However, they can also recur.
There are rare, however, serious complications that may follow an ear infection:
Hearing loss and a ruptured eardrum.
Speech or language delay in children, which is common in cases when there is chronic fluid in the middle ear.
Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone in the skull.
Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering your brain and spinal cord.
While most cases of a mild infection often clear up on their own, or without any medical intervention, the following treatments can also help.
To treat an ear infection at home you can:
Apply a warm cloth to the affected ear
Take over-the-counter-OCT pain medication like iburophen, Advil, or acetaminophen.
You can also use OTC or prescription ear drops to relieve pain.
Moreover, taking OTC decongestants like pseudoephedrine can also help.
Furthermore, avoiding sleeping on the affected ear can also help.
In case your symptoms get worse or do not improve, make sure to visit your doctor.
They may prescribe antibiotics if your ear infection is bacterial, chronic, or does not appear to be improving.
However, it is important to note that antibiotics will not help to treat viral infections.
Medical Treatment in Children
In most cases, doctors often take a wait-and-see approach when treating ear infections in children.
Moreover, they avoid prescribing antibiotics which can lead to antibiotic resistance.
Your doctor may in some cases write you a prescription for antibiotics if the symptoms are severe.
Or if the symptoms do not resolve within 2 to 3 days.
Alternatively, they may also write you a prescription, however, recommend you to see if the symptoms of your child get better after 2 to 3 days.
Make sure to finish your entire prescription.
In most cases, a 7 to 10 day prescription of amoxicillin is prescribed by doctors.
You should not give your children aspirin without asking your doctor.
Aspirin is a preventable risk factor for developing Reye’s Syndrome.
It is a rare disorder that can cause brain and liver damage.
Surgery for Ear Infection
Surgery may be an option for ear infection of is not eliminated with the help of usual treatment.
Or you may have them over a short period of time.
In most cases, your doctor will place ear tunes in your ears to allow fluid to drain out.
Moreover, these tubes will be surgically inserted into the eardrums.
They eventually fall out and the holes heal over.
In some cases, these holes need to be closed surgically.
On the other hand, myringotomy is another option.
During this procedure, your doctor will create a small hole in your eardrum to let fluid drain and relieve pain.
The incision heals within a few days.
However, the cases that involve enlarged adenoids, surgical removal of your glands is recommended.
Visiting a Doctor
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should see your doctor if you or your child has:
- worsening symptoms
- hearing loss
- symptoms for more than 2 to 3 days
- pus, discharge, or fluid leaking from the ear
- a fever over 102.2°F
- other concerning symptoms
In the case of adults, it is a good idea to visit a doctor if your symptoms last longer than 2 to 3 days or in case you have severe pain or a fever.
Diagnosing Ear Infections
Your healthcare professional will consider your symptoms and also examine your ears with an instrument: Otoscope.
This device has a light and magnifying lens.
The examination may help to reveal:
Redness, air bubbles, or pus-like fluid inside the middle ear.
Fluid draining from the middle ear, a perforation in the eardrum, or a bulging or collapsed eardrum.
Moreover, this exam is rarely painful, however, children may be bothered.
Some of the other tests your doctor may order are:
In cases your infection is advanced, your doctor may take a sample of the fluid inside your ear.
They will test it to determine whether certain types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present or not.
Computed Tomography, CT Scan
A CT scan of your head can help to determine if the infection has spread beyond your middle ear.
These can help to check your immune function.
This test allows your doctor to measure how well your eardrum responds to changes in air pressure inside your ear.
With the help of this test, your doctor measures how much sound is reflected back from your eardrum to indirectly measure the amount of fluid in your ear.
You may need a hearing test, especially if you have chronic infections.
Preventing Ear Infections
The following practices may reduce the risk of ear infections:
Washing your hands often, avoiding overly crowded areas, and breastfeeding infants.
Moreover, forgoing pacifiers with infants and small children, avoiding secondhand smoke, and keeping immunizations up to date.
These often occur due to bacteria or viruses in your middle ear which is a part of your ear behind your eardrum.
Most infections clear up within 2 to 3 days, however, severe infections may need to be treated with antibiotics.
They are common in children and it is important to see your doctor if you or your child develop severe pain, a fever over 102.2 degrees Farhenheit, ear drainage, or other concerning symptoms.
Unlike childhood ear infections, which are often minor and pass quickly, adult ear infections are frequently a sign of more serious health problems.
If you are an adult with an ear infection, you should pay close attention to your symptoms and see your doctor.