Ear infections may occur, when some kind of bacterial or viral infection affects the middle ear of our body, just present behind the eardrum. Ear infections situation may be painful, due to inflammation & fluid that build-up in the middle ear.
Ear infections can be chronic or serious. Acute ear infections are painful but short-lived.
Chronic ear infections do not go away or recur several times. Chronic ear infections may leads to complete damage to the middle and inner ear.
Causes Of Ear Infections?
Ear infections occur when one of your Eustachian tubes swells or closes, causing fluid to build up in the middle ear. The Eustachian tubes, present in ears are like small tubes, run from each ear directly to the back of the throat of our body.
Causes of Eustachian tube obstruction include:
- Cold and smoke
- Bone infections
- Excess mucus
- Inflamed or infected adenoids (tissue near the tonsils that traps harmful bacteria and viruses)
- Changes that occur in air pressure
Risk Factors Of Ear Infections
Ear infections are more common in young children because they have small, narrow Eustachian tubes. Those children, who are fed with feeder, may also have a higher risks of ear infections than their nursing counterparts.
Other factors that may enhances the risk or danger of ear infections are:
- Height change
- Climate change
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Use Of Pacifier
- Recent ear disease or infection
What Are The Signs Or Symptoms Of An Ear Infection?
Some common symptoms or signs of ear infection may include:
- Mild pain or discomfort inside the ear
- Sensation of pressure inside the ear that persists.
- Anxiety in young children
- Pus-like drainage from the ears
- Hearing loss
These symptoms can persist or come and go. Symptoms or signs may be possible in one or both ears. The pain is usually more severe with a double ear infection (infection in both ears).
The symptoms of a chronic ear infection may be less noticeable than those of a serious ear infection.
Babies younger than 6 months with symptoms of fever or ear infections should see a doctor. Always seek medical help if your child has a fever over 102 ° F (39 ° C) or severe earache.
How Is An Ear Infection Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will examine your ears with an instrument called an otoscope that has a light and a magnifying glass. The test can show:
- Redness, air bubbles & some may be pus-like fluid that may be present inside the middle ear
- Fluid discharge from the middle ear
- A hole in the eardrum
- A boiled or ruptured eardrum
Lastly, you may need a hearing test, especially if you have a chronic ear infection.
How Is An Ear Infection Treated?
Most mild ear infections clear up without interruption. Here are some ways to treat the symptoms of a mild ear infection:
- You should may apply, a warm washcloth to the affected ear.
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Use over-the-counter or prescription ear drops for pain relief.
- Take over-the-counter decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
If your symptoms get worse or do not improve, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Antibiotics may be prescribed if your ear infection is chronic or doesn’t seem to be getting better.
If a child younger than 2 years old has symptoms of an ear infection, the doctor may also prescribe antibiotics. It is important that you complete a full course of antibiotics if they are prescribed for you.
Surgery, can be a choice, if your ear infection is not going to be treated with routine medical treatment or if you are facing some multiple ear infections in a short period of time. Tubes are often inserted into the ears to allow fluid to escape.
In cases of enlarged adenoids, surgical removal of the adenoids may be necessary.
What Can You Expect In The Long Term?
Ear infections usually clear up without intervention, but they can come back. These rare but serious complications can occur after an ear infection:
- Hearing loss
- Speech or language delays in children.
- Mastoiditis (infection of the mastoid bone on the scalp)
- Meningitis (bacterial infection of the membranes that line the brain and spinal cord)
- A ruptured eardrum
How Can Ear Infections Be Prevented?
The risk of ear infections can be reduced in the following ways:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid crowded areas.
- Forget the pacifier with babies and toddlers
- Infants who breastfeed
- Avoid secondhand smoke
- Keep vaccines up to date