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 cant 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 childs 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 Downs syndrome a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and a characteristic range of physical features
When Should You See A Doctor For An Ear Infection
You dont want to sit with ear pain for long. If youve tried at-home remedies, youre not getting relief, or your symptoms have gotten worse, Dr. Kozin says its time to talk to your doctor immediately. Youll also definitely want to see someone if you have drainage from your ear, hearing loss, ringing in your ears, or dizziness, he says.
Check If It’s An Ear Infection
The symptoms of an ear infection usually start quickly and include:
- discharge running out of the ear
- a feeling of pressure or fullness inside the ear
- itching and irritation in and around the ear
- scaly skin in and around the ear
Young children and babies with an ear infection may also:
- rub or pull their ear
- not react to some sounds
- be irritable or restless
- be off their food
- keep losing their balance
Most ear infections clear up within 3 days, although sometimes symptoms can last up to a week.
If you, or your child, have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.
|Inner ear infection
|Middle ear infection
|Outer ear infection
|Can affect both children and adults
|Usually affects children
|Usually affects adults aged 45 to 75
|Caused by viral or bacterial infections
|Caused by viruses like colds and flu
|Caused by something irritating the ear canal, such as eczema, water or wearing earplugs
|Affects parts of the inner ear like the labyrinth and vestibular system, and can lead to labyrinthitis
|Affects the eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the nose
|Affects the ear canal
Read Also: Retreating A Root Canal With Infection
Anatomy Of An Ear Infection
The ear is divided into the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Infection can occur in any of these areas, but bacterial infections of the inner ear are extremely rare.
Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can cause infections in the ear. Infections can be brought on by an illness, such as a cold or allergies.
Ear infections generally occur when bacteria, viruses, or fungi gain entry into one of the three areas of the ear and cause infection.
The Pain Doesnt Go Away
The pain from an ear infection will come on fast, but it doesnt usually last longer than a day or two. But if your pain lingers without improving for several days, you should head over to the doctor.
Depending on the severity of your ear infection, they may or may not prescribe you any antibiotics. If they do, make sure you continue taking your daily amount even if your pain is gone.
Recommended Reading: Infection Control Manual For Assisted Living Facilities
Clogged Ears: Causes Symptoms And Treatment Options
In this article:
It is common for people to experience sudden stuffiness in their ears, which is often short-lived. More often than not, you may experience this stuffiness along with diminished hearing, pain, and imbalance, on account of a clogged ear or Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Almost anyone can suffer from a clogged ear, but it affects children more frequently than adults, especially during a common cold or nasal allergy.
When To Call A Doctor
Urgent care can treat minor illnesses
Consider talking with a doctor about your symptoms and options for treatment if:
- Symptoms persist or get worse over two to three days.
- Infection is recurring. A child who has three or more ear infections in a six-month period may be referred to a specialist for pressure equalization tubes.
- Pain is severe.
Ear infections can usually be treated in urgent care clinics, or by your childs pediatrician.
If youre able to get in with your primary care provider, that is going to be preferred especially if its a recurring issue. We know that kids get sick frequently, so pediatrician offices usually have several appointments available every day for kids who need to be seen on short notice, Dr. Ray said.
How Dangerous Are Untreated Ear Infections In Adults
Itchiness or pain. Trouble hearing. Fluid leaking out of the ears. These symptoms may have been all too common when we were kids, but as an adult, the signs of an ear infection are probably something you have not felt in quite some time. While ear infectionsmiddle ear infections in particularare more common in children, they are not unheard of in adults. In this blog post we explore the risks and complications of leaving an ear infection untreated in adults.
In our last blog, we talked about the difference between middle ear infections , and outer ear infections , more commonly known as swimmers ear. Otitis media is caused by either bacteria or viruses. A common cold, the flu, or allergy symptoms that cause congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat, and eustachian tubes can sometimes lead to an infection. Anything that makes the nose stuffy has a tendency to cause swelling and blockage of the eustachian tubes. Swelling from colds or allergies can keep the eustachian tubes from opening and this leads to pressure changes and the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. This pressure and fluid will cause pain and sometimes persistent fluid can lead to an infection.
Untreated chronic ear infections can also cause tears in the eardrum. These tears will typically heal within a few days, though in more extreme cases, surgical repair might be required.
Ear Infection Treatments
Read Also: How To Say Party In Sign Language
Types Of Middle Ear Infections
Middle ear infections often occur after a cold virus or upper respiratory infection. They are also more common in individuals who suffer from allergies or enlarged adenoids , which can inhibit proper functioning of the auditory tube.
Bacteria, viruses, or fungi often enter through the auditory tube, which can then become swollen and blocked with mucus, preventing drainage and ventilation of the middle ear.
The main symptoms of middle ear infections include:
- Ear pain, which may be worse in the morning or cause difficulty sleeping
- Ear drainage
- Trouble hearing
A healthcare provider can diagnose a middle ear infection based on symptoms and an examination, which involves looking at the eardrum with an otoscope .
Also Check: Antibiotic For Tooth Gum Infection
When Should I See A Doctor
You should visit your doctor if:
- you or your child is in pain
- there is discharge from your or your child’s ear
- you or your child is unwell or vomiting or has a fever
- you or your child can’t hear properly
- your child gets repeated ear infections
Go to your nearest emergency department if there is redness, pain or swelling of the bone behind the ear or if the ear is pushed forward. This could be a sign of a serious infection called mastoiditis.
Let Amory Urgent Care Treat Your Ear Infection Quickly
Once you have a physician treat your ear infection, itll start clearing up immediately. Theres no reason to wait it out and risk the infection worsening.
If you have any of the warning signs discussed above, get to your physician right away.
Amory Urgent Care provides fast, high-quality medical care seven days a week. Contact us today schedule an appointment.
Don’t Miss: Where To Go For Kidney Infection
Controlling Pain And Symptoms At Home
Mild ear infection symptoms can be controlled with:
- A hot or cold compress
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
Other home remedies, such as numbing drops, or homeopathic remedies, such as essential oils, are not recommended for ear infections.
Over-the-counter numbing drops dont provide long-lasting relief, Dr. Ray said. And essential oils are an unproven treatment.
For the most part, these are not super well-studied. If the ear infection gets so bad that the pressure on the eardrum is enough, it can actually poke a hole in the eardrum. In those cases, those substances can actually get into the middle ear, where they could cause additional harm, Dr. Ray said.
In general, I am not a fan of putting anything in the ear canal to treat these ear infections.
Who Should Make An Otoscopy
The most common causes of otoscopy are ear pain and impaired hearing. Ear aches are usually due to middle ear infection, but may also be due to inflammation of the ear canal.
Children get much more frequent middle ear infection than adults, while ear infections affect both adults and children. In children, fluid in the middle ear is a common cause of hearing impairment.
Ear cushions are another common cause of hearing loss in both children and adults.
Recommended Reading: Can Mirena Cause Recurrent Yeast Infections
What’s The Difference Between The Middle Ear Infections We Get As Children Versus The Middle Ear Infections We Get As Adults
Dr. Wang: The underlying causes are usually different. They are more frequent in children because their shorter, more horizontal Eustachian tubes are more likely to get blocked. Also, their adenoids are larger compared to the rest of the throat and can interfere with the opening of the Eustachian tubes. And finally, children’s immune systems are immature and colds and viruses are often passed around day care and school.
Runny Nose And Postnasal Drip
When you have a sinus infection, you may need to blow your nose often because of nasal discharge, which can be cloudy, green, or yellow. This discharge comes from your infected sinuses and drains into your nasal passages.
The discharge may also bypass your nose and drain down the back of your throat. You may feel a tickle, an itch, or even a sore throat.
Recommended Reading: I Have A Uti And Yeast Infection
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.
When To See A Doctor
If your childâs symptoms last for more than one day, or if ear pain is severe, you should talk to a doctor. Also call your doctor if you observe bloody fluid or pus draining from the ear. Lastly, call a doctor if your child who is less than six months old is showing symptoms of an ear infection.
Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics that usually treat the infection quickly.
Leaving a severe infection untreated can cause hearing problems or other complications. Mild hearing loss is possible while an infection is present, but if the infection doesnât disappear or keeps coming back, permanent hearing loss is possible. Untreated infections can also lead to dangerous spreading of the infection to nearby body parts.
Recommended Reading: Does Benadryl Help With Tooth Infection
How Are Outer Ear Infections Treated
Dr. Wang: Most ENT doctors and primary care physicians will prescribe antibiotic ear drops only. Typically, oral antibiotics are not necessary, and we like to avoid overprescribing them so they continue to work when we actually need them. Occasionally, the opening of the ear may be too inflamed or sticky to get the drops in, so we have to stick a little wick in there to get the drops where they need to go. The provider may prescribe oral antibiotics if the outer ear infection is really severe.
When To See A Doctor For An Ear Infection And Home Remedies To Try First
Theres nothing like getting an ear infection as an adult to increase your empathy for a wailing, feverish baby tugging at her ear in the middle of the night. Ear infections are painful. However, not every ear infection necessitates an immediate trip to your healthcare provider.
Read on to learn more about ear infections how and when you can safely troubleshoot at home and when its time to see a medical provider.
Recommended Reading: What Antibiotics Treat Inner Ear Infection
How Are Sinus Infections Treated
Many sinus infections caused by a virus will resolve on their own without any treatment with antibiotics, Melinda said. This is important because if you dont need antibiotics, its better not to take them as they can cause side effects and long-term resistance. An infection caused by bacteria, however, will likely require antibiotics.
Sometimes your health care provider may ask you to take over-the-counter medications to help your symptoms and monitor your condition further.
Examples of over-the-counter medication include:
- Saline nasal spray
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief
- A warm compress on your nose and forehead to relieve sinus pressure
Signs In Young Children
As babies are unable to communicate the source of their discomfort, it can be difficult to tell whats wrong with them. Signs that a young child might have an ear infection include:
- raised temperature
- pulling, tugging or rubbing their ear
- irritability, poor feeding or restlessness at night
- coughing or a runny nose
- unresponsiveness to quiet sounds or other signs of difficulty hearing, such as inattentiveness
- loss of balance
Also Check: Can You Get Sick From A Tooth Infection
When To See Your Doctor
If you or your child is having symptoms of an acute ear infection, like ear pain, fever, and trouble hearing, you should see your doctor. Getting an acute ear infection treated promptly can help prevent a chronic ear infection. You should also see your doctor if:
- you have been diagnosed with an acute ear infection but its not responding to treatment recommended by your doctor
- you have been diagnosed with an acute ear infection and experience new symptoms, or if the symptoms get worse
- if your child shows symptoms of a recurring ear infection
Chronic ear infections require medical treatment. However, home treatments can help relieve your symptoms. Home treatments include:
- holding a warm or cool washcloth to the painful area
- using numbing ear drops
- taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen
Types Of Sinus Infections: Chronic Vs Acute
There are four types of sinus infections. These classifications depend on the length and frequency of the infection:
- Acute sinusitis.This type of sinus infection lasts only for a short time, defined by the American Academy of Otolaryngology as less than 4 weeks. This short-term infection is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness. It may also be caused by a bacterial infection .
- Subacute sinusitis. A subacute sinus infection lasts between 4 and 12 weeks .
- Recurrent acute sinusitis. An acute sinus infection is considered recurrent if the infection returns four or more times within a year, with each infection lasting 7 days or more.
- Chronic sinusitis.Chronic sinus infections last for more than 12 weeks or continue to recur.
Many sinus infection symptoms are common in both acute and chronic forms. Seeing a doctor is the best way to learn if you have an infection, find the cause, and get treatment.
For cases of acute bacterial sinus infections, these symptoms last at least 10 days without improving, or they worsen within 10 days after seeming to improve. In this case, its important to talk with a doctor, such as a general practitioner or an ear, nose, and throat doctor , to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Learn more about the symptoms of a sinus infection below.
You May Like: Will Bactrim Treat Tooth Infection
How Do Cotton Swabs Cause Outer Ear Infections
Dr. Wang: Earwax is a natural way for your body to trap and slow the growth of bacteria that may have entered your ear. When you apply cotton swabs, you often wind up pushing earwax further into the ear canal. This impacted wax can then trap water or moisture deep in the canal, setting you up for an infection.
Symptoms Of Ear Infection In Adults
Symptoms of Outer Ear Infection
- Pain in the affected ear
- Itching in the ear canal
- Swelling or redness of the outer ear
- Excessive discharge from the ear canal
- Feeling of fullness inside the outer ear
- Temporary hearing loss
See your doctor if you are suffering from any of the swimmer’s ear symptoms, even if they are not severe. Visit the emergency room or call your doctor urgently if you have fever and severe pain.
Symptoms of Middle Ear Infection
- Feeling of pressure and fullness in the ear
- Excessive discharge from the ear
- Temporary hearing loss
See your doctor if you are suffering from the severe ear pain, discharge of fluid or blood, or your symptoms last for more than one day.