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Ear Infections Go Away On Their Own

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Earaches In Adults: What You Need To Know

do ear infections go away on their own

Been a while since you woke up with a sharp, stabbing earache? Such a distant memory you don’t even know where to find a heating pad like the one your mom used to carefully apply to the side of your face?

Consider yourself lucky but not necessarily off the hook. Although ear infections are more common among children, some 20% occur in adults. Bad news for those of us who thought we had outgrown that phase for good. But the good news is, for the most part, there are easy ways to fix the problem, and even easier ways to avoid the common mistakes that can land even the most responsible adults in the reclining chair of an ear, nose and throat doctor .

Luckily, Dr. Brian Wang, an ENT doctor at Houston Methodist, is here to answer all of our burning questions about the types of ear problems that most frequently occur in adults.

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.

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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.

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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

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 If Your Dog Has Chronic Ear Infections

Do You Have To Go To Doctor For Ear Infection

Chronic ear infections can be time-consuming and frustrating for the pet, the owner, and even the veterinarian.

Certain breeds of dogs are known to more commonly experience recurring ear infection issues, according to the Veterinary Information Network.3 This can be partly due to genetics, ear shape, or ear confirmation. Over time, proliferative ear tissue can form, making treatment more difficult.

Chronic dog ear infections require closely working with your veterinarian to treat. It is important that your vet does testing to choose the appropriate medication. Chronic infections can require medication consistently for 6 to 8 weeks.

After treatment, testing is needed again to ensure that all the infection has cleared. If we stop medicating too soon or do not treat underlying problems, it is easy for the infection to return, sometimes even becoming resistant to many medications.

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Are Dog Ear Infections Contagious

It depends on the cause, but the majority of dog ear infections are not contagious. If the cause is ear mites, though, these parasites are extremely contagious.

With ear mites, all pets in the home must be treated simultaneously. Ear mites are relatively common in puppies and kittens and may not be noticed initially when adopting a new pet. But shortly after bringing your new pet home, multiple pets in the house will be scratching and shaking.

Rarely, a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or possible other contagious infection can be cultured from an infected ear.

It is recommended to practice good handwashing when interacting with a pet with an ear infection and to limit other pets licking the infected pets ears. Good handwashing is also recommended after cleaning or medicating the ear to limit any topical absorption of medication.

Can You Have An Ear Infection Without A Fever

Fever may come with an ear infection, but not always, Shu says. Parents might spot other symptoms, such as earaches, ear drainage, trouble hearing or sleeping, ear tugging, poor appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. But “for many children, it’s just fussiness, crying more than usual, being clingy,” Shu says.

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How Is An Ear Infection Treated

Treatment of ear infections depends on age, severity of the infection, the nature of the infection and if fluid remains in the middle ear for a long period of time.

Your healthcare provider will recommend medications to relieve you or your childs pain and fever. If the ear infection is mild, depending on the age of the child, your healthcare provider may choose to wait a few days to see if the infection goes away on its own before prescribing an antibiotic.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacteria are thought to be the cause of the ear infection. Your healthcare provider may want to wait up to three days before prescribing antibiotics to see if a mild infection clears up on its own when the child is older. If your or your childs ear infection is severe, antibiotics might be started right away.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended when to prescribe antibiotics and when to consider waiting before prescribing based on your childs age, severity of their infection, and your childs temperature. Their recommendations are shown in the table below.

American Academy of Pediatrics Treatment Guide for Acute Otitis Media

Childs Age
in one or both ears Mild for < 48 hours and temp < 102.2° F Treat with antibiotic OR observe. If observe, start antibiotics if child worsens or doesnt improve within 48 to 72 hours of start of symptoms

Pain-relieving medications

Why Do Kids Get Ear Infections

Ear Infections? Do This! | Dr K & Dr Wil

Kids get ear infections more than adults do for several reasons:

  • Their shorter, more horizontal eustachian tubes let bacteria and viruses find their way into the middle ear more easily. The tubes are also narrower, so more likely to get blocked.
  • Their adenoids, gland-like structures at the back of the throat, are larger and can interfere with the opening of the eustachian tubes.

Other things that can put kids at risk include secondhand smoke, bottle-feeding, and being around other kids in childcare. Ear infections are more common in boys than girls.

Ear infections are not contagious, but the colds that sometimes cause them can be. Infections are common during winter weather, when many people get upper respiratory tract infections or colds .

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How Long Can Inner Ear Infection Last

Inner ear infections will usually clear up by themselves within a few weeks, although some can last for six weeks or more. If the symptoms are severe or they don’t start to improve within a few days, then you should see a doctor. The doctor might prescribe antibiotics if the infection appears to be caused by bacteria.

When To Treat Chronic Ear Infections

Your doctor might take a wait-and-see approach. Often, a typical infection goes away on its own, especially if itâs from a virus. Sometimes your child needs antibiotics to kill infections caused by bacteria.

But some kids just get a lot of ear infections and sometimes they donât clear up very easily. Usually, it doesnât cause long-term problems, but frequent ones can lead to:

  • Delays in learning speech and developing social skills
  • Infection that spreads to other parts of the head
  • Tears, or holes, in the eardrum

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Combat Ear Infections In Dogs With The Right Dog Food

If your dog suffers from recurrent infections or those caused by allergies, your veterinarian may advise a change of diet.

The best alterations are towards brands that do not contain any wheat, gluten, or additives. Many dog food companies have veterinary-approved allergy diets and this will be displayed on their packaging.

These are recipes that only use natural ingredients such as brown rice, root vegetables, and beneficial supplements like omega 3 fish oil or canola oil. Your veterinarian will most likely stock specialized dog food for dogs with allergies or prone to infections.

When changing your dogs diet, be mindful not to shock their system. This should be done slowly, ideally over a 2-week period by adding a small amount of the new food to their regular food.

Over the 2 weeks, you can begin to increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the old food. If you notice loose stool, decrease the amount of the new food and add smaller amounts over a longer period so they have time to adjust.

Garlic May Interact With Some Medications

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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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Any Other Words Of Advice For Adults Regarding Ear Infections

Dr. Wang: Do not stick anything in your ears! Also, if you have diabetes, be very careful with ear infections. They might be much more persistent, painful and treatment resistant. If this happens to you, really prioritize getting your blood sugar under control, because that can greatly affect your body’s ability to shake the infection.

When Should I Return To My Healthcare Provider For A Follow

Your healthcare provider will let you know when you need to return for a follow-up visit. At that visit, you or your childs eardrum will be examined to be certain that the infection is going away. Your healthcare provider may also want to test you or your childs hearing.

Follow-up exams are very important, especially if the infection has caused a hole in the eardrum.

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Do Ear Infections Go Away On Their Own This Is What You Need To Know

Ear infections are very common. They are the most common reason children are brought to the doctor and estimates suggest that by their third birthday, 5 in 6 children will have suffered from an ear infection and they can happen to babies as well.

Theyre not exclusive to children either. While they are more common among kids, adults can get them as well. If youre having ear pain or your child is complaining of ear pain, you are probably wondering do ear infections go away on their own? or do I really have to take my child to the doctor for another ear infection?.

The answer to those questions depends. Keep reading to learn more about ear infections and whether they go away on their own or if you should seek medical treatment.

How Dangerous Are Untreated Ear Infections In Adults

Antibiotic Awareness: Ear Infection or Acute Otitis Media

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.

Potential Complications

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

Ear Infection Prevention

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Can You Prevent Ear Infections

Because colds are very infectious and easily spread among children, it can be very hard to prevent your child from getting sick. However, there are risk factors you can control:

  • Limit your childs exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Make sure your childand youare vaccinated against the flu every year
  • Follow good hygiene habits, like frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer
  • Teach your child to cough into her elbow, not her hands

By Coastal Urgent Care Baton Rouge

Ear infections are very common. They are the most common reason children are brought to the doctor and estimates suggest that by their third birthday, 5 in 6 children will have suffered from an ear infection and they can happen to babies as well.

Theyre not exclusive to children either. While they are more common among kids, adults can get them as well. If youre having ear pain or your child is complaining of ear pain, you are probably wondering do ear infections go away on their own? or do I really have to take my child to the doctor for another ear infection?.

The answer to those questions depends. Keep reading to learn more about ear infections and whether they go away on their own or if you should seek medical treatment.

Otitis Media In Adults

Otitis media is another name for a middle ear infection. It means an infection behind your eardrum. This kind of ear infection can happen after any condition that keeps fluid from draining from the middle ear. These conditions include allergies, a cold, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.

Middle ear infections are common in children, but they can also happen in adults. An ear infection in an adult may mean a more serious problem than in a child. So you may need additional tests. If you have an ear infection, you should see your healthcare provider for treatment. If they happen repeatedly, you should see an otolaryngologist or an otologist .

What are the types of middle ear infections?

Infections can affect the middle ear in several ways. They are:

Who is more likely to get a middle ear infection?

You are more likely to get an ear infection if you:

  • Smoke or are around someone who smokes
  • Have seasonal or year-round allergy symptoms
  • Have a cold or other upper respiratory infection

What causes a middle ear infection?

The middle ear connects to the throat by a canal called the eustachian tube. This tube helps even out the pressure between the outer ear and the inner ear. A cold or allergy can irritate the tube or cause the area around it to swell. This can keep fluid from draining from the middle ear. The fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Bacteria and viruses can grow in this fluid. The bacteria and viruses cause the middle ear infection.

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How Are Ear Infections Treated

To treat an ear infection, health care providers consider many things, including:

  • the type and severity of the ear infection
  • how often the child has ear infections
  • how long this infection has lasted
  • the child’s age and any risk factors
  • whether the infection affects hearing

The type of otitis affects treatment options. Not all kinds need to be treated with antibiotics. Because most ear infections can clear on their own, many doctors take a “wait-and-see” approach. Kids will get medicine for pain relief without antibiotics for a few days to see if the infection gets better.

Antibiotics aren’t routinely prescribed because they:

  • won’t help an infection caused by a virus
  • won’t get rid of middle ear fluid
  • can cause side effects
  • usually don’t relieve pain in the first 24 hours and have only a minimal effect after that

Also, overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are much harder to treat.

If a doctor does prescribe antibiotics, a 10-day course is usually recommended. Kids age 6 and older who don’t have a severe infection might take a shortened course for 5 to 7 days.

Some children, such as those with recurrent infections and those with lasting hearing loss or speech delay, may need ear tube surgery. An ear, nose, and throat doctor will surgically insert tubes that let fluid drain from the middle ear. This helps equalize the pressure in the ear.

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