Physical And Structural Injuries In The Face And Ears
Serious complications or permanent physical injuries from ear infections are very uncommon, but may include:
- Structural damage. Certain children with severe or recurrent otitis media may be at risk for structural damage in the ear, including erosion of the ear canal.
- Cholesteatomas. Inflammatory tissues in the ear called cholesteatomas are an uncommon complication of chronic or severe ear infections.
- Calcifications. In rare cases, even after a mild infection, some children develop calcification and hardening in the middle and, occasionally, in the inner ear. This may be due to immune abnormalities.
When Your Doctor May Prescribe Antibiotics
While every situation is unique, there are several factors that doctors consider when recommending antibiotics:
- What they see If the infection is in the outer ear, it may be clear its caused by bacteria. In this case your doctor may recommend antibiotic eardrops to help clean out the ear infection. If your doctor cant see the ear infection because its on the inside of the ear, they may not prescribe antibiotics right away.
- How long its been Viral infections typically go away on their own in 1-2 weeks. If the ear infection has been around for less than a week, your doctor may recommend waiting to see if the ear infection goes away on its own, a sign that its viral. If its been more than a week, your doctor may recommend starting antibiotics.
- Your childs age The doctor may be more likely to prescribe antibiotics for children under 2 years old, especially if they have infections in both ears, have pain thats moderate to severe, or have a fever.
- Symptoms If you or your child have certain symptoms, such as an extremely high fever or severe dehydration, your doctor may recommend starting antibiotics sooner.
- Medical conditions Your doctor may recommend starting antibiotics right away if there are certain medical conditions, such as cleft palate or repeat infections, that could lead to problems with an ear infection. In most cases, antibiotics will also be recommended when someone with a cochlear implant gets an ear 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.
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How Do I Prevent An Ear Infection
If you or a loved one gets ear infections often, here are a few ways to prevent them:
Clean your hands to prevent the spread of germs
Dry your ears thoroughly after water activities
Breastfeed children for at least 12 months
Dont smoke, and try to avoid secondhand smoke
Watchful Waiting Recommended For Otitis Media In Children34
In March 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics published an update to clinical practice guidelines for managing acute otitis media. The update extends the recommended approach of watchful waiting for patients as young as 6 months.
Encourage parents to keep an eye on their childs ears to see if the infection resolves without an antibiotic. Let them know that:
- 70% of ear infections get better within a few days
- Limiting antibiotic use helps ensure medicine works when its needed most
- When antibiotics are used too often, the bacteria theyve been designed to kill in your body can adapt and grow stronger over time, which makes it harder for the antibiotic to fight
- Antibiotics can have side effects
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When To See A Medical Provider
If you notice persistent ear infection symptoms that dont resolve on their own, call a healthcare professional.
This is particularly important for adults, as a middle ear infection can be a sign of a more serious problem in this age group compared to children.
And if you experience chronic ear infections, talk to your primary care provider, an otolaryngologist , or an otologist to discuss treatment options.
What Are Some Home Remedies For An Ear Infection
Be sure to see a doctor if you have a fever of 102.2F or higher, discharge , difficulty hearing, worsening symptoms, or symptoms that have lasted more than 2-3 days.
If you have mild symptoms, home treatments can help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with an ear infection by getting plenty of rest and drinking extra fluids. Some people find a warm compress brings comfort. Gargling with salt water may help soothe a sore throat and clear the eustachian tubes in the ears. The eustachian tube is a canal that connects the middle ear to the upper part of the throat and back of the nasal cavityit regulates air pressure and drains fluids from the middle ear).
Due to pressure being built up in the infected ear, sleeping with the infected, painful side up may be more comfortable for children. For adults, performing neck range of motion exercises may relieve some pressure, resulting in relief of discomfort.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
- has other serious medical problems,
- vomits over and over,
- is younger than 6 months old,
- is older than 6 months old and has had a fever for more than 48 hours,
- has redness and swelling behind the ear,
- is very sleepy,
- has a skin rash,
- isnt hearing well or at all,
- remains in a lot of pain despite at least one dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or
- still has an earache after 2 days of treatment with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
What Causes Ear Infections
The ear is organized into three structures, the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear contains the outer structure, the auditory canal and the tympanic membrane .
The inner ear is an air-filled space that contains three small bones responsible for transferring vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. The inner ear is within the temporal bone and contains membranes and a solution which is responsible for sound transmission.
There are three types of ear infections:
- Acute otitis media: an infection of the middle ear
- Otitis media with effusion: an infection of the middle ear when fluid builds up causing an infection
- Swimmers ear: infection of the outer ear canal
Bacteria or viruses cause ear infections. The most common bacteria for ear infections include streptococcus pneumoniae and haemophilus influenzae. Viruses that cause the common cold can cause ear infections.
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Middle Ear Infections In Children
Acute Otitis Media
An inflammation in the middle ear is known as “otitis media.” AOM is a middle ear infection caused by bacteria in the middle ear fluid trapped by a Eustachian tube that is not working well. AOM may develop during or after a cold or the flu. With AOM:
- Middle ear infections are extremely common in children younger than 3. But they are infrequent in adults.
- In children, ear infections often recur, particularly if they first develop in early infancy.
- AOM symptoms improve within 48 to 72 hours with or without antibiotic treatment in most children. There does not appear to be any risks of complications for at least the first 2 to 3 days.
- Even after symptoms subside, fluid may persist in the middle ear for weeks to months after AOM onset.
Otitis Media with Effusion
OME occurs when fluid, called an effusion, becomes trapped behind the eardrum in one or both ears. In chronic and severe cases, the fluid is very sticky and is commonly called “glue ear.” With OME:
- Fluid is present. But there is no infection.
- There is usually no pain. Sometimes the only clue that it is present is a feeling of stuffiness in the ears, which can feel like “being under water.”
- Hearing may be temporarily impaired in children. But most children will not have long-term hearing loss.
Chronic Otitis Media
Symptoms Of Acute Otitis Media
Ear pain is the most common symptom of ear infections. The ear pain associated with acute otitis media usually comes on very suddenly.
Babies and young children who haven’t yet learned to speak may express ear pain in various ways including:
- Pulling, tugging, rubbing, or holding the ear
- Excessive crying, especially when feeding
- Irritability, fussiness, and other changes in behavior
- Difficulty sleeping
Other symptoms associated with ear infections include:
- Fluid discharge from ear
- Cold symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, or coughing
If the ear infection is severe, the tympanic membrane may rupture, causing the pus to drain from the ear. Pus in the ear may cause hearing loss in some children.
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What Is An Inner Ear Infection
Otitis interna, is the medical terminology of the inner ear infection. It is a disease that involves inflammation of the inner ear .
Now, this may become pretty painful, if proper care is not given, especially during the initial stages. Thus, if you are an adult having an ear infection, it is advised that you give serious attention to its symptoms and see a doctor as early as possible.
A condition diagnosed as an inner ear infection may actually be a case of inflammation and not an actual infection. An inner ear infection is inflammation or irritation of the parts of the ear called labyrinthitis, which is responsible for balance.
Home Remedies For Inner Ear Infection
Natural or home remedies include effective diet plans and a couple of precautions that can help you protect yourself and your family against infection of the inner ear regardless of your age.
The basic home remedies can help you get rid of the pain and other symptoms that you may be experiencing from the infection in your ear.
You may use the following natural substances in order to relieve from otitis interna.
- Hydrogen peroxide drops
- warm or hot water.
- steam inhalation
Given below are 4 effective home remedies for an adult that can aid you to overcome problems with the infection.
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What Is The Watch And Wait Method
The watch and wait method, also known as watchful waiting, is when your healthcare provider recommends waiting 2 to 3 days to see if you need antibiotics. This gives your immune system time to fight off the infection. Antibiotics are effective in curing infections, but they should only be used when necessary to avoid side effects.
Who Is At Higher Risk For Ear Infections
- Children less than 5 years old, because they have shorter eustachian tubes.
- Children who attend daycare, because they tend to have more colds.
- Children with allergies.
- Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke. Smoke causes inflammation of the eustachian tube, making ear infections more likely.
- Children who were not breastfed. Breast milk has antibodies that help fight infections.
- Babies who are being bottle-fed, especially if they swallow milk while lying too flat. Milk can enter the eustachian tube and cause inflammation, which increases the risk of an ear infection. Children should be held upright while drinking a bottle. When they are old enough to hold their own bottle well, they should be taught to drink from a regular cup and no longer given a bottle.
- Children with cleft palates, as their eustachian tubes are often inflamed.
- Children of First Nations and Inuit descent, though its not clear why.
- Children with Down syndrome.
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Five Tips To Help Relieve Ear Infection Symptoms At Home
If your little one is cranky, unusually fussy and tugging at his or her ear or is feverish and having difficulty sleeping, chances are it may be due to an ear infection.
Ear infections in children often go away on their own or in some cases with antibiotic treatment. The challenge for many parents is knowing what to do, what to watch for and when to call their pediatrician.
Five out of six children experience an ear infection by the time they are 3 years old, according to the National Institutes of Health. The odds are that your child will have an ear infection before kindergarten.
What causes an ear infection?
Ear infections can be caused by either bacteria or a virus, often following a cold. The common cold can cause the middle ear to become inflamed and fluid to build up behind the eardrum. The Eustachian tube, which connects the ears, nose and throat, can also become swollen.
Children are more susceptible to ear infections than adults because they have shorter and narrower Eustachian tubes, and it is easier for germs to reach the middle ear and for fluid to get trapped there, says Kara Hutton, MD, a pediatrician at Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo. Babies and children also have weaker immune systems, so it is more difficult for their bodies to fight an infection.
The onset of ear infections is often on day three of a cold. Ear infections peak at age 6 months to 2 years, and are a common problem until age 8, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
What Can Parents Do About Middle Ear Infections
Children who have an acute middle ear infection usually have an earache and a fever. They sleep badly, are restless and cry a lot. What are the treatment options and when is it important to seek medical advice?
Middle ear infections usually clear up after a few days. Complications are very rare. The earache often already goes away again after one day. Until that happens, medication to relieve pain and reduce fever, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen , can be used to relieve the symptoms. A lot of care and attention is also helpful, and some children feel that certain home remedies have a soothing effect too.
Antibiotics often do not work and can have side effects. So there’s usually a good reason to wait two or three days at first, to see whether a middle ear infection clears up on its own. If the symptoms don’t get better, the child can still take then. Antibiotics also help in children who are leaking pus from their ear, and in children who are under two years old and have an infection in both ears.
If a child is unwell, it can be important to seek medical advice early on. The doctor can tell whether it’s a middle ear infection and how severe it is. You can then discuss the most appropriate treatment approach together. If the symptoms don’t get better despite treatment, or if the child has problems such as hearing loss, it’s advisable to see the doctor again.
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What Can I Do To Relieve Ear Pain
Remedies that may give you some relief include:
- holding a warm cloth or heat pack along the outside of your ear
- taking pain relief medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- sleeping with your head resting on 2 pillows
Dont clean your ears with cotton buds, they can damage your ears and dont effectively remove the wax.
If you have discharge from your ear, you can gently clean the outer ear with cotton wool. If there is discharge from both ears, use a new piece of cotton wool for each ear.
If you are concerned, check your symptoms with the healthdirect online Symptom Checker for advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether its self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero .
How Ear Drops Work For Earwax
All ear drops are designed to break down and dissolve the earwax buildup that is causing issues. The different substances used in the drops work in different ways:
- Mineral oil: Some OTC ear drops contain various types of mineral oil. Mineral oil softens hard and dry wax, which allows the wax to be cleared out of the ear once it becomes soft enough.
- Glycerin: Glycerin is used to soften the wax that has built up in the ears. This helps to clear any blockage or buildup, as the wax can then clear out on its own.
- Carbamide peroxide: Carbamide peroxide releases oxygen in the ear. The oxygen thats released causes foaming within the ear, and that foam softens, loosens, and helps remove the excess buildup of wax.
- Saline solution: Saline solution helps soften the wax that has become hard.
- Baking soda: Since baking soda is an alkaline substance, it can help clear out earwax by dissolving it. It can do this because the earwax is acidic. The chemical reaction that occurs between baking soda and earwax is what dissolves the earwax.
- Acetic acid: Acetic acid is found in water-based ear drops and helps dissolve the earwax buildup.
Although ear drops can be helpful in the removal of built-up earwax, there are some downfalls. For those who have sensitive skin, ear drops can cause irritation of the skin in and around the ear canal. Therefore, they should be used sparingly or as directed.
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Home Remedies For Ear Pain
Before antibiotics, parents used home remedies to treat the pain of ear infections. Now, with current concern over antibiotic overuse, many of these simple remedies are again popular:
- Parents can press a warm water bottle or warm bag of salt against the ear. Such old-fashioned remedies may help to ease ear pain.
- Due to the high risk of burns, ear candles should not be used to remove wax from ears. These candles are not safe or effective for treatment of ear infections or other ear conditions.
- Researchers are studying the protective value of probiotics especially lactobacilli strains such as acidophilus. But it is important not to give your child any herbal remedies or dietary supplements without consulting with the pediatrician.