Complications Of Excess Mucus
Mucus is a thick, sticky liquid produced by your nose to protect the body from infection. It traps viruses and bacteria and keeps your nasal passages moist. When your body is functioning normally, mucus mixes with saliva and is harmlessly swallowed. However, under certain circumstances, your body may produce more mucus than normal. When this happens, the excess mucus needs someplace to go. Postnasal drip occurs when the excess mucus exits from the back of your nose into the throat. A runny nose is excess mucus exiting from the nostrils.
Excess mucus in your nose can clog your sinus passages, which may lead to a sinus infection. Postnasal drip can also cause ear or throat discomfort. Your nose is connected to your ears and throat via an open structure called the pharynx, a cone-shaped passageway in the back of the head. Therefore, excess mucus that exits from the back of your nose can flow into your ears and throat from the pharynx. Excess fluid in your ear can cause an ear infection by clogging up the Eustachian tube. An unusual influx of mucus can also irritate your throat, causing soreness or coughing.
What Causes Middle Ear Infections
Most middle ear infections occur when an infection such as a cold, leads to a build-up of mucus in the middle ear and causes the Eustachian tube to become swollen or blocked.
This mean mucus can’t drain away properly, making it easier for an infection to spread into the middle ear.
An enlarged adenoid can also block the Eustachian tube. The adenoid can be removed if it causes persistent or frequent ear infections. Read more about removing adenoids.
Younger children are particularly vulnerable to middle ear infections as:
- the Eustachian tube is smaller in children than in adults
- a child’s adenoids are relatively much larger than an adults
Certain conditions can also increase the risk of middle ear infections, including:
- having a cleft palate a type of birth defect where a child has a split in the roof of their mouth
- having Down’s syndrome a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and a characteristic range of physical features
Can You Prevent Ear Infections In Dogs
As with most diseases, prevention is always best. Excess moisture is a common cause of ear infections, so be sure to thoroughly dry your dogs ears after swimming and bathing. If your dog is prone to chronic or recurrent ear infections, identifying and managing any underlying causes such as allergies can help prevent new infections from occurring.
Cleaning your dogs ears at home can also help prevent ear infections. Jeff Grognet, DVM, a columnist for AKC Family Dog, advises the following steps for ear cleaning: First, fill the canal with a dog ear cleaning solution and massage the vertical ear canal from the outside. Wipe out the canal with absorbent gauze. Dont use paper towels or cotton because these may leave fibers behind, and those could cause irritation. Cotton swabs may also be useful for cleaning your dogs pinnae but avoid using them in the ear canal, which may inadvertently push debris deeper into the canal.
Ear infections are a common and often recurrent problem in many dogs, but, with your veterinarians help, you can keep your dogs ears clean and comfortable. If your dog is showing signs of an ear infection, seek treatment right away to ensure the problem does not become serious.
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How Do You Know If An Ear Infection Is Viral Or Bacterial
It can be difficult to tell, at least in the beginning. If you or your child is recovering from a virus , its probably more likely youre dealing with a viral ear infection. If strep throat or pneumonia has been in the house, theres a greater chance that its bacterial. But thats not always the case.
Symptoms are similar with viral and bacterial infections. One difference is you have a higher fever with a bacterial ear infection. However, fevers can also happen with viral infections.
Often, its a bit of a waiting game. If the ear infection goes away on its own within a week or so, you can assume it was caused by a virus. If it isnt improving after a week, it might be a bacterial infection and you should definitely seek medical treatment.
How Do You Check For Inner Ear Infection
A doctor will look into the ear with an instrument called an otoscope. An otoscope helps see inside the ear canal and eardrum to see if there is redness or swelling, build up of earwax, or if there are any abnormalities in the ear. The doctor may gently puff air against the eardrum to see if it moves, which is normal.
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Adults Can Get Ear Infections Too
Ear infections are incredibly common. Most people will have one at some point during their lifetime usually in early childhood.
And while its much less common, its possible for adults to get ear infections, too.
Kristin Downs, APRN, explains the types of ear infections, as well as their symptoms and treatments. Kristin often treats common ailments like ear infections in her role at OSF OnCall Urgent Care.
What Parents Can Do To Prevent Ear Infections
Ear infections are common in babies and children, but they can be prevented by focusing on cold and flu prevention and family hygiene, a CHOC physician says.
Frequent hand-washing by all family members helps cut down on the spreading of germs, and its also important to discourage children from rubbing their hands on their faces or in their eyes.
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What Happens If You Have An Ear Nose And Throat Infection
Ear infections can cause earache, wax or discharge, hearing loss, and balance problems. Nose infections are likely to cause a runny or stuffy nose and sneezing. Infections that reach areas such as the sinuses can also cause other symptoms such as headaches. Throat infections can cause a sore or itchy throat and pain or difficulty swallowing.
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.”
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Where Is The Middle Ear
The middle ear is behind the eardrum and is also home to the delicate bones that aid in hearing. These bones are the hammer , anvil and stirrup . To provide the bigger picture, lets look at the whole structure and function of the ear:
The ear structure and function
There are three main parts of the ear: outer, middle and inner.
- The outer ear is the outside external ear flap and the ear canal .
- The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. The middle ear houses the delicate bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This is where ear infections occur.
- The inner ear contains the snail-shaped labyrinth that converts sound vibrations received from the middle ear to electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain.
Other nearby parts
- The eustachian tube regulates air pressure within the middle ear, connecting it to the upper part of the throat.
- Adenoids are small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids help fight infection caused by bacteria that enters through the mouth.
Is It An Ear Infection Or Covid
It is not possible to tell whether a person has an ear infection or COVID-19 according to their symptoms alone. An individual may also develop ear pain as their only COVID-19 symptom. Their ear pain also may linger after recovering from the disease. To know whether a person has an ear infection, COVID-19, or both, they should take a COVID-19 test.
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If Your Child Has An Ear Infection
PHOTO: Getty Images
What is an ear infection?
A typical ear infection is an inflammation of the middle ear. Its one of the most common childhood infections and can occur in one ear at a time or both ears at the same time. They are more common during cold and flu season.
What are the causes of ear infections?
Many situations can contribute to developing an ear infection. A middle ear infection can be caused by infection of fluid behind the ear drum, secondary to a viral or bacterial upper respiratory infection or uncontrolled allergies.
What are some of the symptoms parents should look for in their children?
Symptoms can include ear pain, ear drainage, fever, irritability, sleeplessness, poor appetite, cough and nasal discharge. Children who arent old enough to speak might be fussier or seem to have trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds. Tugging on the ears is not a reliable symptom to help your doctor lead to the diagnosis of an ear infection.
How are ear infections treated?
Some infections might clear on their own with close follow-up. Antibiotics are typically used to treat ear infections. If your child has reoccurring ear infections, they might be a candidate for ear tubes.
How can you soothe a child with ear infections?
Acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen can help to soothe a child with an ear infection. Sometimes your doctor may prescribe a numbing ear drop for temporary relief.
If children have frequent ear infections, what damage could this cause?
How Can I Prevent An Ear Infection
Remove as many environmental pollutants from your home as you can, including:
Also, reduce your or your childs exposure to people with colds, and control allergies.
- Be sure everyone in your household, including your children, get the proper vaccines when recommended. That includes flu and pneumococcal vaccines.
- Make hand washing a habit that becomes part of the familys routine.
- If possible, avoid group care for children, especially during cold and flu season.
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What Causes Acute Otitis Media
Acute otitis media usually is caused by one of four bacteria:
The pneumococcus bacteria is now the most difficult to treat. Some strains have become very resistant to antibiotics by using their unique ability to transform their genes and cell wall into a bacterial form, which is resistant to most of the antibiotics that commonly are used to treat ear infections. These resistant strains frequently are cultured from children who do not respond to several courses of antibiotics. When a child has an ear infection that does not respond to antibiotics, resistant pneumococcus bacteria may cause it.
Pneumococcus has 90 different types, which are all genetically related however, 7 types account for the majority of ear infections in childhood and nearly all of the antibiotic resistant strains. In addition, pneumococcus is the leading cause of meningitis, bloodstream infections, and serious pneumonia in children, sometimes as a result of a preceding ear infection.
Up to half of Haemophilus and nearly all Moraxella bacteria produce an enzyme , which makes these bacteria resistant to some of the commonly used antibiotics. This enzyme may destroy many antibiotics when they come in contact with the bacteria. Nonetheless, several available antibiotics are still quite effective against these strains.
How Do Adults Get Ear Infections
Adults with weakened immune systems and certain medical conditions are more likely to get ear infections. For example, if you have diabetes, it can cause an inflammatory response throughout your body including your middle and inner ear. Having skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis can increase the chance that you get an outer ear infection.
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How Long Does An Ear Infection Last
In many cases, ear infections clear up in a couple of weeks without treatment. But some ear infections can last for months.
So why do some ear infections last longer than others? The reasons include your health, the location of the infection and whats causing the infection. Inner ear infections tend to stick around longer than infections of the middle or outer ear. And infections caused by bacteria usually last longer than ones caused by viruses.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- How can I keep my child comfortable at night with the pain of an ear infection?
- Is there drainage with an ear infection?
- What is the difference between an ear infection and swimmers ear?
- Is my child a candidate for ear tubes?
- What are the risks and benefits of surgically inserting tubes inside my childs middle ear?
- Should my child get regular hearing tests if they have frequent ear infections?
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When Should I Go To The Doctor For An Ear Infection
While many ear infections can be treated at home, some need medical attention. Youll want to talk to a doctor or nurse if:
- Your baby has a fever, especially if they are younger than 3 months old, or if your older babys temperature is above 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The ear infection symptoms arent getting better after a couple of days.
- Theres fluid draining from the ear.
- You or your child is experiencing changes or loss of hearing.
- The infection has lasted for more than six weeks.
- You or your child is experiencing frequent or recurrent ear infections.
Identifying And Treating Ear Infections In Children
Your child has a bothersome cold for a week. Their nasal discharge turns a little green and their cough starts to keep you all up at night. Then one night they are up every hour extremely fussy with a fever. You take them to the doctor the next morning, almost certain they have another ear infection.Ear infections in children are one of the most worrisome illnesses for both parents and children to go through, especially if they are frequent. They also are the most common reason for antibiotic prescriptions. Heres a guide to help you understand why ear infections occur, how to best treat them, and most importantly, how you can prevent them from happening too often.
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Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged 4 Common Causes & Treatments
When your ears feel clogged, it can be uncomfortable and annoying especially if it results in muffled hearing. However, getting relief depends on identifying what is causing that clogged sensation.
Virginia Gural-Toth, AuD, CCC-A, manager of Audiology, Tinnitus and Balance Programs at the Center for Audiology at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, says that there are several common causes of clogged ears, including:
- Impacted ear wax.
If your ears are full of wax, they can often feel clogged. And sometimes, ear wax buildup can be tough to remove.
If you think you have excessive ear wax, you can try over-the-counter drops, explains Dr. Gural-Toth. However, if it doesnt come out in a day or two, seek medical attention so a health care provider can remove it safely.
Dr. Gural-Toth says that you should never attempt to remove ear wax using a Q-tip. Using a Q-tip could push the wax further in, comments Dr. Gural-Toth.
- Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Eustachian tube dysfunction occurs when the Eustachian tube which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat doesnt open and close properly. When the Eustachian tube doesnt open and close properly, it can cause that clogged-up feeling.
The Eustachian tube helps to drain fluid from the middle ear and equalize the pressure between the middle ear and the atmosphere outside, says Dr. Gural-Toth. If it is blocked due to swelling or fluid, it can make your ears feel clogged.
S To Prevent Ear Infections
If your child has had several ear infections already, or you simply wish to lower their risk of getting ear infections in the first place, here are some ways to prevent or at least lessen the frequency and severity of ear infections:
There is no doubt whatsoever in the medical literature that prolonged breastfeeding lowers your childs chances of getting ear infections.
2. Daycare setting
Continuous exposure to other children increases the risk that your child will catch more colds, and consequently more ear infections. Crowded daycare settings are a set up for germ sharing. If possible, switch your child to a small, home daycare setting. This will lower the risk.
3. Control allergies
If you think allergies are contributing to your childs runny nose and, consequently, ear infections, click on allergies to find out more about how to minimize your childs allergies.
4. Feed your baby upright
Lying down while bottle-feeding can cause the milk to irritate the Eustachian tube which can contribute to ear infections.
5. Keep the nose clear
When a runny nose and cold start, do your best to keep the nose clear by using steam, saline nose drops and suctioning. Also, try Xlear® nasal spray which contains xylitol that can help prevent viruses and bacteria from attaching in your childs nose. See colds for more info on clearing the nose.
6. Cigarette smoke
This is an herb that can safely and effectively boost the immune system. Read for more information.
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