When You Need Antibiotics
Children with ear infection with high temperature and vomiting are more likely to benefit from immediate treatment with antibiotics. Children who dont have high fever and vomiting are unlikely to have complications and unlikely to benefit from immediate antibiotics4.
There are situations when antibiotics should be given promptly:
- Moderate or severe ear pain .
- Chronic conditions, such as heart disease or cystic fibrosis, which could put a person at risk for complications from an ear infection.
- Child younger than 2 years of age, because the risk of complications is higher for very young children.
- The condition worsens or fails to improve within 48 to 72 hours of onset of illness.
What Is The Inner Ear
Your inner ear plays an important role in your hearing and balance. Its primary function is to receive sound waves that come in through the outer ear and go through the middle ear, where the sound makes your eardrum vibrate. These vibrations travel to the inner ear, which transmits them to the brain as nerve impulses.
Your inner ear is a labyrinth of fluid-filled tubes and sacs. It has three main parts:
- The cochlea, a shell-shaped structure that sends sound impulses to the brain
- The semicircular canals, which use your heads movement to sense your position in space
- The vestibule, which is your primary balance system
Messages run through this system to the brain by way of the vestibulocochlear nerve. This nerve has two branches. One is responsible for hearing and one for balance. An inner ear infection happens when this nerve or the structures around it get irritated or inflamed.
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Hearing Loss And Speech Or Developmental Delay
Severe cases of recurrent acute otitis media or persistent otitis media with effusion may impair hearing for a period of time. But the hearing loss is not substantial or permanent for most children.
Hearing loss in children may temporarily slow down language development and reading skills. However, uncomplicated chronic middle ear effusion generally poses no danger for developmental delays in otherwise healthy children.
Rarely, patients with chronic otitis media develop involvement of the inner ear. In these situations, hearing loss can potentially be permanent. Most of these patients will also have problems with vertigo .
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Dizziness And Balance Disturbances
Dizziness is a general term for many different symptoms. While it generally means an abnormal sensation of motion, it can also mean imbalance, lightheadedness, blacking out, staggering, disorientation, weakness and other sensations. Symptoms can range from mild and brief to severe spinning sensations accompanied by nausea also known as vertigo. For clarity the definitions we use to talk about dizziness are used.
Dizziness A general term for all abnormal symptoms of balance and stability.
Imbalance Inability to keep ones balance especially when standing.
Lightheadedness The feeling of nearly passing out, similar to the feeling you might have if you hold your breath for a long time.
Vertigo The sensation that you or your surroundings are moving or spinning or whirling.
Balance requires the interaction between many different organs and systems in the body. The brain is the central processing center for all balance information coming from the senses and for all information going out to the muscles of balance. Input comes from three main areas: vision, the balance portion of the inner ear, and the touch . Vision is an important cue to the brain which tells us if we are moving relative to our surroundings.
What Type Of Ear Infection Is It
There are two common types of ear infections:
- Otitis media: This ear infection affects the middle ear . Middle ear infections are common in kids and tend to cause trouble hearing, fevers, and pain without much outward signs such as ear drainage or swelling.
- Otitis externa: This infection affects the ear canal, and is commonly known as swimmers ear because water exposure is a risk factor for it. Swimmers ear is painful, too, and tends to have more visible signs such as a swollen ear canal or pus drainage.
There are several home remedies for earaches, says Dr. Nguyen-Huynh. Try these for the first two or three days if symptoms are mild.
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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.
What Causes A Middle
The middle ear connects to the throat by a canal called the eustachiantube. This tube helps even out the pressure between the outer ear and theinner ear. A cold or allergy can irritate the tube or cause the area aroundit to swell. This can keep fluid from draining from the middle ear. Thefluid builds up behind the eardrum. Bacteria and viruses can grow in thisfluid. The bacteria and viruses cause the middle-ear infection.
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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.
Mayo Clinic Q And A: Dizziness Caused By Inner Ear Crystals
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: What causes BPPV, and is there a treatment for it?
ANSWER: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is one of the most common causes of vertigo . BPPV is characterized by sudden bursts of vertigo that are caused by head movements, such as sitting up or tilting your head. What leads to the development of BPPV isnt known, but its more common in older adults.
Once you develop BPPV, the bursts of dizziness typically occur after you change the position of your head, such as when you roll over in bed. BPPV also may cause nausea and possibly vomiting, with a feeling of lingering fatigue, queasiness or a feeling of imbalance. Without treatment, these symptoms may last for as little as one day to as long as weeks or months. Fortunately, with proper diagnosis, a simple procedure may be all it takes to treat BPPV.
Your sense of balance relies on a finely tuned system that coordinates sensory information and visual information to help you determine the position of your body relative to your surroundings.
Although the canalith repositioning procedure is highly effective, BPPV can linger or return. This is more likely to happen in older adults. If this happens, you may be taught how to do the canalith repositioning procedure on your own at home.
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How To Prevent Inner Ear Pressure
While there are many at-home remedies for inner ear pressure, there are also practical ways to prevent the condition from occurring. Avoid air travel if you have a cold, sinus infection, nasal congestion or ear infection. When flying, staying awake during takeoff and landing will allow you to take steps to help your ears adjust more comfortably. If flying with infants, give them a bottle during takeoff and landing to encourage swallowing, which will help their ears adjust.
Other Types Of Ear Infections
Acute otitis externa is an inflammation or infection of the outer ear and ear canal. It can be triggered by water that gets trapped in the ear. The trapped water can cause bacteria and fungi to breed. Otitis externa can also be precipitated by overly aggressively scratching or cleaning of ears or when an object gets stuck in the ears.
Otitis externa is generally treated with topical antibiotics, which will cure the infection and help relieve pain. With eardrops, most cases will clear up within 2 to 3 days. If the condition persists, the doctor will need to evaluate and rule out other possible causes.
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Hot Salt Wrapped In A Cloth
Salt is one of the most readily available home remedies for dealing with pain in the ear. All you have to do here is take a small cup of salt, heat it properly, then wrap it in a cloth and seal the end of the cloth by tying a knot.
Now, lay down and place the cloth with hot salt on the affected ear for a couple of minutes .
Repeat this process a few times daily to relieve you from the pain and swelling in the ear. Alternatively, you could also use rice in place of salt for the same purpose.
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Its Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
Though an earache might be something most people remember from childhood, adults are not immune from them.
Ear pain in adults is less likely to be caused by an ear infection than ear pain in children.
In adults, the pain is more likely caused by one of a variety of issues:
- Arthritis of the jaw
- Tooth infection
Symptoms of an earache can include pain, fever, ear drainage, nausea, and vomiting.
When an adult has an earache, its important to treat the root cause of the problem, even if that problem isnt directly related to the ear, such as arthritis of the jaw.
If you experience ear pain that doesnt go away or gets worse within 24 to 48 hours you should call your doctors office.
Also call your doctor if you have severe pain that suddenly stops. This could be a sign that your eardrum has ruptured.
The type of earache you have determines the best treatment:
- For a general earache. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, rest in an upright position instead of lying down, and put a cold pack on the outer ear for 20 minutes
- For ear pain from pressure change. Swallow hard or chew gum
- For earaches caused by other medical issues. Visit your doctor to determine the best treatment on a case-by-case basis. This includes causes such as excess wax buildup, object in ear, sinus infection, sore throat, and tooth infection.
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Pain Relievers For Earaches
If you or your child is experiencing an infection, youll likely want relief from the pain fast.
For quick relief, your doctor may also suggest reaching for an over-the-counter pain reliever, with or without the addition of antibiotics.
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen could help, though youll always want to check with your doctor to be sure.
What Are Common Inner Ear Infection Symptoms In Adults
Your inner ear controls hearing and balance. Therefore, people with inner ear infections may experience a wide range of symptoms associated with those senses. Signs of an inner ear infection may include:
- Fluid draining from your ear.
Sometimes, an infection can spread to your inner ear from another area of your body, such as your airway. In these instances, you may also have a runny nose or generalized issues like fever. Oftentimes, your initial symptoms begin fading when your inner ear symptoms begin.
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Joy Victory Managing Editor Healthy Hearing
Joy Victory has extensive experience editing consumer health information. Her training in particular has focused on how to best communicate evidence-based medical guidelines and clinical trial results to the public. She strives to make health content accurate, accessible and engaging to the public.Read more about Joy.
Signs & Symptoms Of Inner Ear Infection
The inner ear infection symptoms are different from that of Otitis externa or Otitis media. You may find yourself having the problem of vomiting, nausea, and dizziness in case of inner ear infection.
But these signs are not present in the middle ear infections. Thus you have to be careful about the specific symptoms of your specific part of your ears. Lets have a look at the symptoms of an inner ear infection.
A person who is suffering from an inner ear infection or otitis interna may tend to show a few symptoms. The common signs and symptoms of inner ear infection basically include:
Inner ear disorders can last longer.
If you are experiencing any or all of the symptoms listed above, this indicates that you have an infection in the inner ear or otitis interna and you are required to seek treatment from a doctor immediately.
Also, please be aware that if treatment is not sought immediately, you may experience complications at later stages.
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Longer Term Effects Of Inner Ear Infections
Generally, the symptoms will clear up as soon as the infection is gone. However, the effects can sometimes last longer.
You might still feel dizzy and off-balance even when the other symptoms caused by the infection have gone. This can be a sign that the balance organs were damaged. Your brain can usually learn to work with these changes, so your sense of balance should usually come back by itself. However, if youre struggling to cope or the problem persists, you should see an ENT specialist. The doctor can check for any underlying causes and may refer you for vestibular rehabilitation therapy to help you to recover your balance.
Inner ear infections can also have a longer term effect on your hearing. This is more likely if you had bacterial infection, so your doctor might recommend a hearing test to check on your ears after the infection.
Treatment For Otitis Media With Effusion
Otitis media with effusion is fluid behind the middle ear . It usually resolves on its own without treatment, especially when it follows an acute ear infection. Antibiotics are not helpful for most cases of OME.
Clinical practice guidelines for OME recommend the following treatments:
- Watchful Waiting for OME. The child is typically monitored for the first 3 months. If OME lasts longer than 3 months, a hearing test should be conducted. Even if OME lasts for longer than 3 months, the condition generally resolves on its own without any long-term effects on language or development. The doctor will re-evaluate the child at periodic intervals to determine if there is risk for hearing loss.
- Drug Treatment. Antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines, and corticosteroids do not help and are not recommended for routine management of OME. Antibiotic ear drops are helpful for treating ear infections that may occur in children with tympanostomy tubes. Topical antibiotics work better than oral antibiotics for treating the discharge that can occur with this type of infection.
- Surgery. Ear tube insertion may be recommended when fluid builds up behind your child’s eardrum and does not go away after 3 months or longer. Fluid buildup may cause some hearing loss while it is present. However, most children do not have long-term damage to their hearing or their ability to speak even when the fluid remains for many months.
Tonsillectomy is not recommended for OME treatment.
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Are There Any Potential Complications Or Long
A severe inner ear infection can actually spread to the part of the brain that controls your dogs breathing and heart rate, although this is quite rare.
Two potential long-term complications of inner ear infection include a permanently altered sense of balance and/or persistent signs of Horners syndrome. Your dog may also become permanently deaf in the affected ear.
That said, most dogs with otitis interna respond well to medical management. Expect a two- to four-month course of oral antibiotics to prevent a relapse. The altered sense of balance that generally accompanies otitis interna is typically improved within two to six weeks. Small dogs may recover their balance more quickly than large breeds.
Fluid In The Ear And Allergies
The most common ear problem seen in patients with allergies is fluid in the ear or middle ear effusion. Allergic reactions have been proposed as being responsible for some cases of hearing loss and fluid in the middle portion of the ear.
Most of the middle ear effusions occur under two years of age and the incidence continues to decrease by the age of ten years. There seems to be an increased incidence during the winter and spring months, apparently related to an increase in respiratory tract infections.
The fluid in the middle ear may be clear and watery this is usually seen following respiratory infections and flare up of allergic nasal congestion. In glue ear, the effusion consists of thick and cloudy fluid. These gluey secretions are more prone to recurrent infections if they persist on a long term basis.
Children with fluid in the ear often complain of being stopped up or having popping ears. The older child and young adult may complain of having a hearing loss and of a feeling of fullness in the ear. The fluid in the middle ear is the most prevalent cause of hearing loss in school age children. These children are often described by teachers and parents as being inattentive, loud talkers, and slow learners. When middle ear effusion is present for a long period of time, there may be a delay in language development and learning resulting in poor school performance. Some of the children are prone to frequent ear infections with high fever and earaches.
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