Middle ear infections can be painful for children and adults alike. They occur in the space behind one’s eardrum and are more common among children. It is best to seek medical attention in such cases to avoid complications.
What are its causes and concerns?
Middle ear infections result from the space behind the eardrum filling up with fluid, which leads to viral or bacterial growth. An infection occurs when germs from one’s nose and throat during sickness become trapped in this space. A tube called the Eustachian tube connects the throat and ear, which swells up during sickness and fills up with fluid.
Certain factors could increase the risk of developing an ear infection. These include:
- Dysfunctional Eustachian tubes
- Congenital health conditions
- Persistent or untreated allergies
- Frequent upper respiratory infections
What are the symptoms?
Mild to severe earache is the most common symptom of an ear infection. It can be intermittent or continuous. One may also experience itching or drainage from the ear.
Some other symptoms are:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Stuffy Nose
- Nasal drainage
What are the solutions and treatment options?
When you come to us to have your ear infection diagnosed, our ear specialist looks into your ear to check if you have an infection and assesses its severity. He or she uses a tool called Otoscope to see if there is any fluid trapped in the space behind the eardrum. A tympanogram may also need to be performed.
Ear infections caused by viruses and bacteria need to be dealt with differently. Those caused by a virus usually disappear on their own and do not require any special treatment. However, they can be painful, due to which non-prescription medication (such as Tylenol and Advil) is recommended. Another way to alleviate the pain is by placing a warm washcloth on your ear and letting it rest there.
Infections caused by bacteria need to be treated with antibiotics. Children sometimes need minor surgery to heal their ear infection. In case of recurring infections, the ear specialist may drain the fluid by inserting Ototubes into the eardrum.
Ear infections typically take around 10-14 days or less to heal. If your condition is taking longer, is worsening or growing in intensity, you should consult an ear specialist.
Lastly, it is always better to be safe than sorry. One can prevent an ear infection by adopting certain practices, like:
- Avoid smoking or being exposed to smoke. Smoke can block or clog the tube that connects the ear to the throat, causing fluid to accumulate in the space
- Avoid or limit exposure to people who are sick
- Always wash your hands after touching doorknobs and using the bathroom
Ear infections cause pain in both adults and children. If you spot the symptoms in yourself or your loved ones, do not hesitate to contact us. Our doctors are trained in treating ear infections and other ear-related disorders. They would be happy to evaluate your case and provide a solution.
Additional Reading: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/ear-infections-topic-overview
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