What Is An Inner Ear Infection
Inner ear infections usually develop when a virus attacks the inner ear or the nerve branches that run through it. Most inner ear infections are viral. In some cases, the infection directly affects the labyrinth or vestibulocochlear nerve. In others, a virus like measles, influenza, or mononucleosis affects the entire body including the inner ear.
Bacterial infections are less common. Most of the time, a bacterial inner ear infection happens because of a chronic middle ear infection. Toxins from this infection invade the inner ear structures and nerve. In rarer cases, the bacteria themselves invade the labyrinth from the middle ear or the cerebrospinal fluid that flows in or around the brain.
Symptoms of inner ear infections usually come on quickly. Symptoms can be mild to severe and include:
- Ringing in the ear
- Feelings of fullness in the ear
Different types of inner ear infections cause different symptoms. The two main types of inner ear infections are:
- Neuronitis, which only affects the branch of the nerve that controls balance
- Labyrinthitis, which causes inflammation and irritation of the vestibulocochlear nerve
The primary difference is that labyrinthitis causes hearing-related symptoms, while neuronitis doesnt. Your treatment will depend primarily on whether you have a viral or bacterial infection.
How Long Do Ear Infections Last
Severe symptoms usually last for less then one to two days. If such symptoms last longer than one to two days, then it is important to consult with a doctor.
If symptoms do not go away and are left untreated, they can lead to complications and in rare cases more serious health issues
After an ear infection clears up, fluid may remain in the middle ear and cause some of the more mild symptoms and can persist for several weeks to months. This condition is diagnosed as otitis media with effusion.
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.
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Can Ear Infections Be Prevented
Some lifestyle choices can help protect kids from ear infections:
- Breastfeed infants for at least 6 months to help to prevent the development of early episodes of ear infections. If a baby is bottle-fed, hold the baby at an angle instead of lying the child down with the bottle.
- Prevent exposure to secondhand smoke, which can increase the number and severity of ear infections.
- Parents and kids should wash their hands well and often. This is one of the most important ways to stop the spread of germs that can cause colds and, therefore, ear infections.
- Keep childrens immunizations up to date because certain vaccines can help prevent ear infections.
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.
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How Long It Takes An Ear Infection To Heal In Adults
Ear infection is a common condition with known treatments antibiotics and painkillers. Although these treatments have a time frame for treating ear infections, ear infection healing time may be different from one person to the other.
If you need more information or you have a question regarding Ear Infection, you can discuss it with our HearingSol healthcare professionals, just give us a call on +91-9899437202. We are always here to help you.
Ear infections healing time varies between individual. The recovery time of ear infection based on the age, anatomy, and surroundings of the patient.
Children may experience pain for several days, while adults may heal faster since their Eustachian tube is wide enough.
Normally, the healing time for middle ear infection may vary from 2 days to 3 days, an outer ear infection can last to 2 weeks and inner ear infection can last even up to 2 months until full recovery.
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Cause Of Ear Infections
- A bacterial infection of the middle ear
- Blocked eustachian tube, usually as part of a common cold. The eustachian tube joins the middle ear to the back of the throat.
- Blockage results in middle ear fluid .
- If the fluid becomes infected , the fluid turns to pus. This causes the eardrum to bulge out and can cause a lot of pain.
- Ear infections peak at age 6 months to 2 years. They are a common problem until age 8.
- The onset of ear infections is often on day 3 of a cold.
- How often do kids get ear infections? 90% of children have at least 1 ear infection. Frequent ear infections occur in 20% of children. Ear infections are the most common bacterial infection of young children.
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How Is Otitis Media Diagnosed
During an examination, the doctor will use an instrument called an otoscope to assess the ears condition. With it, the doctor will perform an examination to check for redness in the ear and/or fluid behind the eardrum. With the gentle use of air pressure, the doctor can also see if the eardrum moves. If the eardrum doesnt move and/or is red, an ear infection is probably present.
Two other tests may be performed for more information.
- An audiogram tests if hearing loss has occurred by presenting tones at various pitches.
- A tympanogram measures the air pressure in the middle ear to see how well the eustachian tube is working and how well the eardrum can move.
Once a proper diagnosis has been reached, the doctor may prescribe one or more medications. It is important that all the medication be taken as directed and that any follow-up visits be kept. Often, antibiotics to fight the infection will make the earache go away rapidly, but the infection may need more time to clear up. So, be sure that the medication is taken for the full time your doctor has indicated. Other medications that your doctor may prescribe include an antihistamine , a decongestant , or both. Sometimes the doctor may recommend a medication to reduce fever and/or pain. Analgesic ear drops can ease the pain of an earache. Call your doctor if you have any questions about you or your childs medication or if symptoms do not clear.
What Are The Types Of Middle
Infections can affect the middle ear in several ways. They are:
Acute otitis media. This middle-ear infection occurs suddenly. It causes swelling and redness. Fluid and mucus become trapped inside the ear. You can have a fever and ear pain.
Otitis media with effusion. Fluid and mucus build up in the middle ear after the infection goes away. You may feel like your middle ear is full. This can continue for months and may affect your hearing.
Chronic otitis media with effusion. Fluid remains in the middle ear for a long time. Or it builds up again and again, even though there is no infection. This type of middle-ear infection may be hard to treat. It may also affect your hearing.
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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 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.
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Ear Infections In Older Adults
While ear infections are more common in children, older adults can also get them.
Swimmerâs ear is most common in people ages 45 to 75. A potentially life threatening ear infection, malignant otitis externa , mostly occurs in older people with diabetes or weakened immune systems.
The aging process may affect the structure of the ears, making older adults more susceptible to ear diseases.
A of 138 people ages 60 and over found that 9.4% had a middle ear infection.
Older adults who have ear infections may experience symptoms such as the following:
Why Do Children Get Ear Infections
Infants and young children between 3 months and 3 years old are much more likely to get ear infections than adults. In fact, most children will have at least one ear infection. The main reasons are:
- Differences in Eustachian tubes. These tubes in your ears are shorter and narrower when youre younger, so its easier for them to become blocked. Additionally, the tubes in infants and young children are usually more horizonal than those in adults which means that its harder for fluid to drain.
- Their developing immune system. When infants are about 6 months old, they start losing some of the immunity they were born with. At the same time, babies start becoming more social, sharing both toys and germs. Breastfeeding is one effective way to help strengthen your childs immune system.
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Can My Child Travel By Airplane If Ear Fluid Is Present
If the ear is completely full of fluid there is usually no problem, but when the fluid is partial or mixed with air it can hurt when the plane is coming down. Your doctor can measure the amount of fluid with a tympanogram, which gives a flat reading when the ear is full. It may help to keep your child awake when the plane is landing and encourage him or her to swallow to even out the pressure.
Rosenfeld RM, Shin JJ, Schwartz SR, et al. Clinical practice guideline : otitis media with effusion. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016 154:215-225.
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What Happens If Otitis Media Is Left Untreated
These middle ear infections will often clear up on their own, but if they occur repeatedly and the parent opts to not treat a lingering infection, it can lead to serious complications, including:
- Impaired Hearing Mild hearing loss is a part of most ear infections, as the accumulated fluid blocks sound. But the hearing improves as the infection clears. If ear infections recur over and over there be more significant hearing loss. In these recurring events, the eardrum or other structures in the middle ear can become permanently damaged, which would lead to permanent hearing loss.
- Speech or Developmental Delays Its important to think beyond the ear infection and consider that your child is not hearing clearly. This impairment, whether temporary or semi-permanent, can lead to delays in speech, social, and developmental skills.
- Spreading Infection Untreated ear infections can spread to the mastoid, the bony protrusion behind the ear. This is called mastoiditis and can result in damage to the bone and the formation of pus-filled cysts.
- Eardrum Tearing If fluid or pus is allowed to accumulate behind the eardrum, the pressure can cause the eardrum to tear.
A Pharmacist Can Help With An Ear Infection
Speak to a pharmacist if you think you have an outer ear infection.
They can recommend acidic eardrops to help stop bacteria or fungus spreading.
- a long-term medical condition such as diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
- a weakened immune system because of chemotherapy, for example
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Johns Hopkins Pediatric Otolaryngology
Our pediatric otolaryngologists are committed to providing compassionate and comprehensive care for children with ear, nose, and throat conditions. As part of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, you have access to all the specialized resources of a children’s hospital. Your child will also benefit from experts who use advanced techniques to treat both common and rare conditions.
What Can Increase Your Childs Risk For Ear Infections
- Being exposed to cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke irritates the Eustachian tubes and causes them to swell.
- Lying flat while bottle feeding. Milk or formula can travel up the Eustachian tubes, causing irritation and swelling.
- Pacifier use. Using a pacifier can affect how the Eustachian tubes work. But using a pacifier can be helpful in safe sleep for babies and preventing sudden infant death syndrome. So, talk to your doctor about when your baby should stop using a pacifier most of the time its when theyre about 6 months old.
- Being in a large childcare center. More kids mean more germs, making it more likely that your child could get repeat ear infections.
How To Prevent Ear Infections In Dogs And Puppies
Regular grooming, ear cleaning, and ear maintenance are important parts of pet care. Routine ear cleansing is especially important if your dog swims often.
Cleaning is best accomplished with a professional dog ear cleaning product. These typically have been specifically formulated for effective pH ranges for dogs and contain drying agents.
Ear Infection Home Treatments And Remedies
Ear infections can occur in the outer ear , middle ear , and inner ear . Natural and home remedies to treat pain include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- Applying a warm compress on the infected ear.
- Applying naturopathic ear drops with ginger, tea tree, or olive oil may help with pain and inflammation.
Talk with your doctor or pediatrician before using any herbal or naturopathic medicine for ear infections.
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What Causes Outer Ear Infections
This type of ear infection is usually caused by bacteria, but it can also be caused by fungus. In an outer ear infection, the ear canal is affected, becoming inflamed and red. Sometimes, your ear may also ooze a liquid, which can cause blockages in the ear canal.
These usually happen due to bacteria getting into a small cut or scrape inside the ear canal, but it can also be caused by irritation of the canal by in-ear headphones or cotton buds, for example.
Outer ear infections are often referred to as swimmers ear as bacteria can easily get into your ear canal while youre swimming, and a warm and wet environment is the ideal place for bacteria to multiply. Other risk factors include having a narrow ear canal, smoking, sinusitis, having a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema or being diabetic.
What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Otitis Media
Certain groups, especially children, are prone to developing otitis media. Here are various risk factors:
- Age Children between the age of 6 months and 2 years are more susceptible to ear infections because of the size and shape of their Eustachian tubes and because their immune systems are still developing.
- Group Childcare Just as with colds and flu, children in group childcare settings are more likely to get ear infections.
- Infant Feeding Bottle-fed babies, particularly if they drink the bottle while lying down in their crib, are more prone to develop otitis media than breast-fed babies. This is a result of the feeding position.
- Seasons Otitis media is more common in the fall and winter. In people with allergies, they may occur when pollen counts rise.
- Poor Air Quality High levels of air pollution or cigarette smoke increase risk.
- Cleft Palate If a child has a cleft palate, it is more difficult for his or her Eustachian tubes to drain.
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