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Your ENT and Hearing Care Specialists

Ear Infection

Causing pain for children and adults alike, middle ear infections can lead to many problems. Seeking medical attention for your ear infection is the best solution to make sure that you receive adequate treatment and prevent complications. Find out about the symptoms and solutions of an ear infection.

Causes and Concerns

Ear infections are not as common in adults as they are in children, but they can still occur. A middle ear infection occurs in the space behind your ear drum. When this space becomes filled with fluid, it can lead to an infection due to viral or bacterial growth. Germs from your nose and throat can become trapped in this space when you are sick and this is what leads to the infection. Also, there is a tube that connects your throat and ear together, called the Eustachian tube. When this tube becomes swollen due to sickness, fluid gets trapped in that space behind your ear drum. Risk factors for ear infections include:

  • Persistent or Untreated Allergies
  • Frequent Upper Respiratory Infections
  • Dysfunctional Eustachian Tubes
  • Congenital Health Conditions

Symptoms and Signs

There are a few symptoms associated with an ear infection, and the most common one is an earache. An earache can range anywhere from mild to severe, and it can be intermittent or continuous. You may also experience itching or drainage from the ear when an infection is present. Other symptoms associated with an ear infection include:

  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Nasal Drainage
  • Cough
  • Stuffy Nose

Solutions and Options

To have an ear infection diagnosed, you will need to see one of our ear specialists. The doctor will take a look inside your ear to determine whether or not you actually have an infection, as well as to assess the severity of it. The doctor will be able to see if there is any fluid trapped in the space behind the ear drum with a tool called an otoscope. He or she may also perform a test called a tympanogram.

You can ease the pain associated with an ear infection by placing a warm wash cloth on your ear and letting it rest there. Ear infections may be either viral or bacterial in origin. Ear infections which are caused by bacteria require treatment with antibiotics. For those suffering from chronic ear infections, minor surgery is sometimes necessary to heal an ear infection. When someone has recurrent infections, the ear specialist will insert ototubes into the eardrum to drain the fluid.

Ear infections typically last for about 10 to 14 days, but they may heal quicker than that or even last longer than that. If you feel that your ear infection is becoming worse, or the earache is growing in intensity, you should talk to an ear specialist. Our doctors are specifically trained to treat ear infections and other ear-related disorders.

There are ways to prevent an ear infection. Because one major cause for ear infections is smoking or exposure to smoke, you should avoid smoking or being around second hand smoke. Also, make sure to avoid people who are sick, and if you cannot, then limit your exposure. Additionally, always wash your hands after touching door knobs and using the bathroom.

Summary

If you suspect you or your child has an ear infection, you should seek medical care to assess the situation and receive treatment. An ear infection will cause pain in both adults and children, and it can make your baby irritable and fussy. Consult one of our caring ear specialists today for an evaluation.

Additional Reading: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/ear-infections-topic-overview