How Do Ear Infections Happen
A middle ear infection usually happens because of swelling in one or both of the eustachian tubes . The tubes let mucus drain from the middle ear into the throat.
A cold, throat infection, acid reflux, or allergies can make the eustachian tubes swell. This blocks the mucus from draining. Then, or grow in the mucus and make pus, which builds up in the middle ear.
When doctors refer to an ear infection, they usually mean otitis media rather than swimmer’s ear . Otitis media with effusion is when noninfected fluid builds up in the ear. It might not cause symptoms, but in some kids, the fluid creates a sensation of ear fullness or “popping.”
Remedies For Inner Ear Infections
Do you need antibiotics?
If you have a bacterial inner ear infection, you may need an antibiotic. However, most inner ear infections are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics arent effective against viral infections. For viral infections, your doctor will suggest treatment options to control your inflammation and help with your symptoms.
What treatments can help?
If you have a viral inner ear infection, your doctor may prescribe a steroid treatment to reduce inflammation or antiviral medication to attack the virus.
What are some inner ear infection home remedies?
Besides medication, there are steps you can take at home to ease the symptoms of an inner ear infection. For example:
- Keep your head upright as much as possible. Sitting or standing can help to drain the ear.
- Apply a warm compress to the affected ear to relieve pain.
- Avoid smoking and drink as little alcohol as possible.
- Reduce your stress levels, since tension can worsen symptoms.
For labyrinthitis, specifically, to combat dizziness and nausea, you can try:
- Resting in a dark, quiet place
- Drinking plenty of water, especially if your nausea leads to vomiting
- Keeping your vision focused in one place instead of glancing around at your surroundings
- Going for walks as soon as you feel you can, with someone for support until you get your balance back
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What Causes Inner Ear Infections
Infections can happen in any part of the ear, including the inner section. When the inner ear is infected, the problem is sometimes known as labyrinthitis.
The infection can be caused by a virus or bacteria, which usually reach the inner ear after affecting another part of your body.
- Viral Infections: Lots of different viruses can affect the inner ear, including the common cold and flu. The infection usually spread to the inner ear from other parts of the body , so you may start to develop symptoms related to your inner ear after noticing cold-like symptoms. Antibiotics cant help with this type of infection.
- Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections are less common, especially in adults, but they can happen. Bacteria are more likely to get into the inner ear if the membranes separating it from the inner ear are broken, which might happen if you have a middle ear infection. If the infection is caused by bacteria then taking antibiotics might help.
In some cases, the problem that we call an inner ear infection isnt actually an infection at all. Labyrinthitis can happen when the inner ear becomes inflamed for other reasons, for example if you have an autoimmune condition that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack the tissue. You might need to get treatment for this underlying condition in order to prevent the inner ear problems from returning.
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How To Use Them
The dosage, type, and frequency of doses depend on the type of medication, the age of the person, their weight, and other mitigating factors such as medical history.
If a child is under age 2 or has never taken this medication before, contact their healthcare provider before administering it.
For children and adults, follow the directions on the package carefully.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Inner Ear Infection
Ear infections can happen anywhere in your outer, middle or inner ear. The symptoms can be very different depending on where the problem is located. If the infection is in your inner ear then it can have a particularly dramatic effect on your senses of balance and hearing. Read on to learn more about inner ear infections and how they can affect you.
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What Causes Ear Infections
Ear infections are the most common infections of the middle ear. They come with pain, a sensation that the ear is clogged up and can even affect our hearing.
They are usually caused by bacteria in the middle ear, but they can also be viral. More often this happens because of another illness that causes one of your Eustachian tubes to swell or become blocked.
This results in a build-up of fluid in the spaces of the middle ear. The pain is the result of this build-up of fluid and the accompanying inflammation increasing pressure on your eardrum.
Ear Infections In Older Adults
While ear infections are more common in children, older adults can also get them.
Swimmerâs ear is most common in people ages 45 to 75. A potentially life threatening ear infection, malignant otitis externa , mostly occurs in older people with diabetes or weakened immune systems.
The aging process may affect the structure of the ears, making older adults more susceptible to ear diseases.
A of 138 people ages 60 and over found that 9.4% had a middle ear infection.
Older adults who have ear infections may experience symptoms such as the following:
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Dont Write Off Irritation As An Allergic Reaction
Some people with ear irritation assume theyre allergic to the materials their earbuds are made of. But thats not likely, Michaelides says. He doesnt rule out an allergic reaction as a source for ear infections and irritation, but those cases are very rare. Most of the time, its overuse that causes the problems.
That means the answer to irritation is not usually finding earbuds made of a different material. Instead, find the right fit, take breaks and keep your earbuds clean. Still, if you think you may be having an allergic reaction, set your earbuds aside and consult a doctor. While such reactions are rare, you can usually find relief faster by pinpointing the cause of your irritation.
Keep Your Earbuds Clean
Its also important to keep your earbuds clean to prevent infections or irritation. Use a cotton swab once a week to wipe away dust or wax buildup. You can also use a toothpick to clean hard-to-reach corners or crevices on the outside of the earbuds.
A toothbrush might also be a good tool to clean some earbuds. If you think youve gotten all of the dirt or wax buildup on the outside, blow into the mesh grill that protects the earbuds speakers to loosen any remaining bits. Once done, wipe all surfaces with a soft cloth.
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How Ear Tubes Work
Ears have natural ventilation through your eustachian tubes — narrow tubes that run from your middle ear to high in the back of your throat. The side of the tube in your throat opens and closes in order to:
- Stabilize air pressure
- Refresh the air in your ear
- Drain fluid
When swelling or mucus keeps natural ventilation from working, ear tubes act as a small window for your ear. They provide an alternative way to help air flow into and out of the ear, which keeps pressure even and helps the ear drain better.
With better airflow, fluid wonât build up and bacteria wonât have such a friendly home.
If your child has hearing loss from fluid buildup, it goes away as soon as the tubes are in. For delays in development, youâll likely see improvement in the weeks and months ahead.
What Causes A Ruptured Eardrum
A number of things can cause the eardrum to rupture one of the most common causes is an ear infection. When the middle ear is infected, pressure builds up and pushes against the eardrum. When the pressure gets too great, it can cause the eardrum to perforate. When that happens, you may suddenly notice that the pain and pressure you’ve felt from the infection suddenly stops and pus drains from the ear.
Another common cause of a ruptured eardrum is poking the eardrum with a foreign object, such as a cotton-tipped swab or a bobby pin that’s being used to clean wax out of the ear canal. Sometimes children can puncture their own eardrum by putting objects such as a stick or a small toy in their ear.
Some ruptured eardrums result from what’s known as barotrauma. This happens when the pressure inside the ear and the pressure outside the ear are not equal. That can happen, for example, when an airplane changes altitude, causing the air pressure in the cabin to drop or rise. The change in pressure is also a common problem for scuba divers.
A head injury or an ear slap can cause the eardrum to rupture. So can an acoustic trauma caused by a sudden loud noise, such as an explosion or a sudden blast of loud music.Ã Learn more about how to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
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What Are The Harms Of Fluid Buildup In Your Ears Or Repeated Or Ongoing Ear Infections
Most ear infections dont cause long-term problems, but when they do happen, complications can include:
- Loss of hearing: Some mild, temporary hearing loss usually occurs during an ear infection. Ongoing infections, infections that repeatedly occur, damage to internal structures in the ear from a buildup of fluid can cause more significant hearing loss.
- Delayed speech and language development: Children need to hear to learn language and develop speech. Muffled hearing for any length of time or loss of hearing can significantly delay or hamper development.
- Tear in the eardrum: A tear can develop in the eardrum from pressure from the long-lasting presence of fluid in the middle ear. About 5% to 10% of children with an ear infection develop a small tear in their eardrum. If the tear doesnt heal on its own, surgery may be needed. If you have drainage/discharge from your ear, do not place anything into your ear canal. Doing so can be dangerous if there is an accident with the item touching the ear drum.
- Spread of the infection: Infection that doesnt go away on its own, is untreated or is not fully resolved with treatment may spread beyond the ear. Infection can damage the nearby mastoid bone . On rare occasions, infection can spread to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord and cause meningitis.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Ruptured Eardrum
Some people don’t notice any symptoms of a ruptured eardrum. Others see their doctor only after several days of general discomfort in their ear and feeling that “something’s not quite right with the ear.” Some people are surprised to hear air coming out their ear when they blow their nose. Forcefully blowing your nose causes air to rise up to fill the space in your middle ear. Normally this will cause the eardrum to balloon outward. But if there is a hole in the eardrum, air will rush out. Sometimes the sound is loud enough for other people to hear.
Other symptoms of a ruptured eardrum include:
- Sudden sharp ear pain or a sudden decrease in ear pain
- Drainage from the ear that may be bloody, clear, or resemble pus
- Ear noise or buzzing
- Facial weakness or dizziness
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Who Is Most Likely To Get An Ear Infection
Middle ear infection is the most common childhood illness . Ear infections occur most often in children who are between age 3 months and 3 years, and are common until age 8. Some 25% of all children will have repeated ear infections.
Adults can get ear infections too, but they dont happen nearly as often as they do in children.
Risk factors for ear infections include:
- Age: Infants and young children are at greater risk for ear infections.
- Family history: The tendency to get ear infections can run in the family.
- Colds: Having colds often increases the chances of getting an ear infection.
- Allergies: Allergies cause inflammation of the nasal passages and upper respiratory tract, which can enlarge the adenoids. Enlarged adenoids can block the eustachian tube, preventing ear fluids from draining. This leads to fluid buildup in the middle ear, causing pressure, pain and possible infection.
- Chronic illnesses: People with chronic illnesses are more likely to develop ear infections, especially patients with immune deficiency and chronic respiratory disease, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma.
- Ethnicity: Native Americans and Hispanic children have more ear infections than other ethnic groups.
What Are The Signs Of An Ear Infection
The signs of an ear infection can vary according to its location in the ear. Generally speaking, ear infection symptoms in adults and older children may include:
- Ear pain
- A feeling of plugged ears
- Ear drainage
In younger children, common signs of an ear infection can include:
- Ear pain that may worsen when lying down
- Increased fussiness or irritability
- Pulling or tugging at one ear
- Irresponsiveness to sounds
- Loss of appetite
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How Do You Treat An Ear Infection
The best treatment for an ear infection depends on many factors, including the age of the child and the severity of the symptoms. Most ear infections clear up on their own within a week without medical treatment such as antibiotics.
You can lessen the pain associated with ear infections by using a warm compress, pain medications and topical numbing eardrops. Children with chronic ear infection issues may need ear tubes surgically placed to drain the fluid and prevent future infections.
What Causes An Ear Infection
Ear infections happen in the middle ear. They are caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The infection creates pressure in the Eustachian tube. This tube does not work properly when filled with drainage from the nose or mucous from allergies, colds, bacteria, or viruses.
A childs adenoids sometimes can block the opening of Eustachian tubes because they are larger in young children.
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Can Earbuds Cause Ear Infections
The short answer is yes but a few simple steps can usually prevent them
“I thought it would go away on its own,” she said. “It actually just ended up getting worse.”
So she finally went to see Elias Michaelides, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Rush University Medical Center. At the visit, she learned her frequent earbud use was causing the problem. Addis job requires her to talk to clients so often that she was wearing her earbuds for seven or eight hours a day. After a while, her ear canals started getting irritated. She also got ear infections.
Now, with more jobs going remote during the pandemic, people are using earbuds more than ever before. But overuse can lead to ear infections and ear canal irritation, just like it did for Addis. The good news is its preventable. Heres what you can do.
Garlic May Interact With Some Medications
Garlic supplements should not be taken with medications that are transported by P-gp. This includes:
Because of the increased risk of bleeding associated with garlic supplements, talk to your healthcare provider about their use if you take an anticoagulant such as warfarin or if you need surgery.
Garlic supplements may interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir and other medications, dietary herbs, or supplements.
Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements, including garlic.
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Home Remedies For Ear Infections
While ear infections are more common in children, people of any age can get them.
Because ear infections often clear up on their own, healthcare professionals are hesitant to jump to prescribing antibiotics as a first course of treatment unless the infection is severe, the child is very young, or there are other mitigating circumstances.
This has many people turning to home remedies for ear infections. Many home remedy recommendationsoften passed from one person to another through word of mouthare not backed by scientific evidence and may even be harmful. It’s important to evaluate home remedy recommendations for ear infections for accuracy and safety before trying them out. And as always, when in doubt, ask your healthcare provider.
Family Medicine At Tufts Medical Center Community Care
Ear infection treatment is one of our many fortes at Tufts Medical Center Community Carea multispecialty medical group serving families throughout north suburban Boston. Our team includes family medicine physicians who specialize in treating both children and adults, providing local families a convenient source for top-quality, comprehensive medical care.
Heres what you can expect as a patient at Tufts Medical Center Community Care:
- Multiple easily accessible locations with ample free parking
- Better-than-average appointment availability, including limited weekend and evening appointments
- A seamless, all-in-one care experience from a multidisciplinary team of clinicians
- Multiple safety-enhancing measures as part of our Safe With Us pledge
For ear infection treatment, check-ups and much more, turn to the family medicine physicians at Tufts Medical Center Community Care. Our team is ready to help! Contact us today to schedule a visit or request an appointment online. We accept most major health insurance plans, including Tricare, Medicare and Medicaid.
myTuftsMed is our new online patient portal that provides you with access to your medical information in one place. MyTuftsMed can be accessed online or from your mobile device providing a convenient way to manage your health care needs from wherever you are.
With myTuftsMed, you can:
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