Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Ear Infections
What exactly is an ear infection?
Ear infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses. They can occur in the middle ear, directly beneath the eardrum, as well as the outer and inner ear. They generally go away on their own, although they can be uncomfortable due to inflammation or fluid buildup.
Chronic and acute ear infections are both possible. Fortunately, acute ear infections are only temporary. Chronic ear infections either do not resolve or return. In rare cases, they might cause irreparable damage to the middle and inner ear.
Please keep reading to find out more about ear infections, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment choices.
What symptoms indicate an ear infection?
The following are common ear infection symptoms:
a little earache or discomfort
An ongoing sense of ear pressure
ear discharge that appears to be pus
These symptoms might be ongoing or intermittent. Symptoms may manifest in one or both ears. When you have a double ear infection, which means an infection in both ears, the pain is typically more intense.
The symptoms of a chronic ear infection may be less severe than those of an acute ear infection.
What Causes Ear Infections, and How Can You Avoid Getting One?
Ear infections are caused by viruses or bacteria in specific. Haemophilus influenza or Streptococcus pneumoniae are typically caused by a blockage of the Eustachian tubes, leading to middle ear fluid buildup. The Eustachian tubes are small tubes that connect the back of your throat to your ears.
The following are some of the causes of Eustachian tube occlusion:
Colds that are common
Sinus infections are common.
a great deal of mucus
Variations in atmospheric pressure
Infected adenoids can also cause ear infections. Adenoids are infection-fighting glands found behind the nose on the roof of the mouth. These glands have the ability to spread diseases to other regions of the body.
Risk Factors for Ear Infection
Other factors that increase the probability of an ear infection are as follows:
Variations in temperature and humidity
Cigarette smoke inhalation
Use of pacifiers
Recently occurring illness or ear infection
Being a guy
The birth weight is insufficient.
Inadequate health-care access
Attending a daycare center
Possible Ear Infection Complications
Ear infections are often self-limiting, although they might return. Following an ear infection, the following serious but uncommon side effects may occur:
Speech delays in children are more probable when there is persistent fluid in the middle ear.
Mastoiditis (an infection of the mastoid process in the skull)
Meningococcal infection (a bacterial infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord)
How Can Ear Infections Be Resolved?
Although the majority of minor ear infections cure on their own, the following treatments may be helpful:
The following therapies can effectively relieve the symptoms of a mild ear infection:
Warm compresses should be applied to the affected ear.
Take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen, both of which are over-the-counter pain relievers (Tylenol).
Use over-the-counter or prescription ear drops to relieve pain.
Pseudoephedrine and other nonprescription decongestants (Sudafed).
It is best to avoid sleeping on the affected ear.
If your symptoms increase or do not improve, you should see a doctor. If your ear infection is bacterial, chronic, or does not appear to be improving, they may advise you to take medication.
Antibiotics have no effect on viral infections.
If your ear infection does not resolve with standard medical treatments, or if you have numerous ear infections in a short period of time, surgery may be an option.
Ear tubes are routinely put into your ears to aid in the drainage of fluid. These tubes are placed surgically in the eardrum. They fall out eventually, and the holes seal up. These holes must occasionally be surgically closed.
A myringotomy is another option. A medical practitioner will puncture your eardrum to allow fluid to drain and relieve your discomfort. The wound will heal in a few days.
When larger polyps are discovered, surgical removal of the polyps may be recommended.
When should you go to the doctor?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that your child see a doctor if they:
More than 102.2°F fever
Ear phlegm, discharge, or fluid
Worsening of symptoms
Symptoms that last longer than two to three days
other troubling signs
Adults should see a doctor if their symptoms last more than two or three days or if they have severe pain or fever.
How Are Ear Infections Identified?
A medical professional will examine your ears with an otoscope, which has a light and a magnifying lens. During the exam, you may notice the following:
Redness in the middle ear, air bubbles, or pus-like fluid
Fluid drainage from the middle ear
the eardrum has ruptured
an enlarged or compressed eardrum
This exam is almost never uncomfortable. It may, however, be unpleasant for certain children.
Additional research is needed.
Additional tests include:
A fluid sample. If the infection has progressed, your doctor may take an ear fluid sample and test it for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
CT scan (computed tomography) Your doctor may arrange a CT scan of your head to see if the infection has spread beyond your middle ear.
Blood tests are carried out. Blood tests may be performed to assess your immune system.
Tympanometry. Tympanometry can be used by doctors to determine how well your eardrum responds to changes in air pressure in your ear.
Acoustic reflectometry measures how many sounds bounce off your eardrum to detect the amount of fluid in your ear.
You can hear an evaluation. A hearing test may be necessary if you have chronic ear infections.
How Can Ear Infections Be Prevented?
Preventing ear infections requires the following precautions:
Hands should be cleaned frequently.
Avoid congested areas.
Pacifiers should never be used on infants or little children.
Avoiding secondhand smoke
Maintain up-to-date vaccines.
Most ear infections clear up in three days or less, but severe infections may require antibiotic treatment.
Ear infections are common in children. Consult a doctor if you or your child is experiencing substantial discomfort, a temperature of more than 102.2°F, ear discharge, or other worrying symptoms.