What Is An Outer Ear Infection
An outer ear infection is an infection of the outer opening of the ear and the ear canal, which connects the outside of the ear to the eardrum. This type of infection is medically known as otitis externa. One common type of otitis externa is referred to as swimmers ear.
This outer ear infection often results from exposure to moisture. Its common in children, teens, and adults who spend a lot of time swimming. Swimmers ear results in nearly
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 child’s hearing.
Follow-up exams are very important, especially if the infection has caused a hole in the eardrum.
What Are The Symptoms Of Inner Ear Infections In Adults
We heard your ear is bothering you. Are you wondering if its an inner ear infection?
Its important to recognize the signs of an ear infection so that you can seek treatment. Sometimes, they go away on their own, but if symptoms persist, it can lead to damage or hearing loss.
Keep reading to find out about the symptoms of inner ear infections in adults so you can stay happy and healthy.
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When To Seek Medical Care
So, how do you know when its time to seek professional treatment for an ear infection? Every case is different, but you should always consult with a medical professional if:
- Your ear pain is severe in nature
- Your symptoms persist for more than three days
- You develop new symptoms, such as a fever or dizziness
- Your symptoms include ear discharge, which may contain blood, pus or clear fluid
If your child develops an ear infection, seek medical care if:
- Ear pain is severe in nature
- Symptoms last longer than 24 hours
- Any symptoms are present in a baby younger than 6 months old
- Symptoms include ear discharge
Your Child Is Unlikely To Have An Ear Infection If:
1. There are no cold symptoms
If your child has some of the above symptoms but does not have a cold, an ear infection is less likely, unless your child has had an ear infection in the past without a cold.
2. They are pulling at the ears
Or batting the ears in infants less than 1 year of age. Infants less than 1-year-old are unable to precisely localize their ear pain. This means that they cannot tell if the pain is coming from the ear or structures near the ear. Infants can pull on or bat at their ears for two other common reasons:
- Teething A baby thinks the pain from sore gums is coming from the ears
- Because they like playing with their ears Infants are fascinated with these strange appendages that are sticking out of the side of their head. They love to explore them, play with them, and especially stick their fingers into that strange hole in the middle.
3. No complaints of ear pain
No complaints from a child who is old enough to tell you, usually by age 2 or 3.
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What Causes Ear Infections
Ear infections are the most common infections of the middle ear. They come with pain, a sensation that the ear is clogged up and can even affect our hearing.
They are usually caused by bacteria in the middle ear, but they can also be viral. More often this happens because of another illness that causes one of your Eustachian tubes to swell or become blocked.
This results in a build-up of fluid in the spaces of the middle ear. The pain is the result of this build-up of fluid and the accompanying inflammation increasing pressure on your eardrum.
Uncommon But Serious Ear Infection Complications
Ear infection complications can happen when the infections become severe or recurrent. I already discussed common myths about ear infections and shared ear infection facts that I believe parents should know.
Ear infection complications can be divided into the common and the uncommon types.
Common ear infection complications include temporary hearing loss, speech delay, dizziness, balance problems and sensory processing and learning disorders.
Uncommon ear infection complications happen because of long term problems that have not been successfully treated or where symptoms seemed to go away. Without significant symptoms, it can be hard to know if a more serious problem is developing.
When kids suffer from ear infections for many years, they get used to ear symptoms and stop complaining about them. Kids are tough! They often say: Its not bad, and I can handle it.
You do not want your child to handle ear problems. If your childs ear infections do not happen as often as they used to, you need to understand that the ear problems should completely go away.
If ear infections keep happening, annual ear exams and hearing tests with an Ear Nose and Throat doctor allows for better evaluations.
Although these problems are not common, children with chronic ear infections may develop one or more of these severe ear infection complications.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Otitis Media
Symptoms of ear infection include:
- Ear pain: This symptom is obvious in older children and adults. In infants too young to speak, look for signs of pain like rubbing or tugging ears, crying more than usual, trouble sleeping, acting fussy/irritable.
- Loss of appetite: This may be most noticeable in young children, especially during bottle feedings. Pressure in the middle ear changes as the child swallows, causing more pain and less desire to eat.
- Irritability: Any kind of continuing pain may cause irritability.
- Poor sleep: Pain may be worse when the child is lying down because the pressure in the ear may worsen.
- Fever: Ear infections can cause temperatures from 100° F up to 104° F. Some 50% of children will have a fever with their ear infection.
- Drainage from the ear: Yellow, brown, or white fluid that is not earwax may seep from the ear. This may mean that the eardrum has ruptured .
- Trouble hearing: Bones of the middle ear connect to the nerves that send electrical signals to the brain. Fluid behind the eardrums slows down movement of these electrical signals through the inner ear bones.
Are Antibiotics Absolutely Necessary To Treat Ear Infections
No, they are not absolutely necessary, but they are helpful for several reasons:
- Antibiotics will help your child feel better faster by eliminating the bacteria, which in turn reduces the fever and ear pain more quickly. Children generally feel better after one or two days of antibiotics.
- Allowing an ear infection to heal on its own usually subjects a child to four to seven days of fever and ear pain.
- Antibiotics help prevent the very rare, but possible, complications of an ear infection spreading into the brain or bone surrounding the ear.
- New research is suggesting that 80 percent of uncomplicated ear infections will resolve within 4 to 7 days without antibiotics. Parents who choose not to use antibiotics can treat the pain and fever with Auralgan anesthetic ear drops and ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or can try using Xlear® nasal spray as mentioned above.
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Can An Ear Infection Be Prevented Or Avoided
Although an ear infection is not contagious, the bacteria or virus that caused it is often contagious. Its important to:
- Vaccinate your child with a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against several types of pneumococcal bacteria. This type of bacteria is the most common cause of ear infections. Get your childs vaccinations on time.
- Practice routine hand washing and avoid sharing food and drinks, especially if your child is exposed to large groups of kids in day care or school settings.
- Avoid second-hand smoke.
- Breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding for at least 1 year. Place your baby at an angle while feeding.
Common allergy and cold medicines do not protect against ear infections.
Types Of Middle Ear Infections
Middle ear infections are called otitis media. When otitis media is accompanied by fluid in the middle ear, ear infections are referred to as serous otitis media, or otitis media with effusion.
Middle ear infections are extremely common during childhood. The age group most affected are children 3 months old to 3 years old.
Adults have a more vertical auditory tube than children, whose auditory tubes are level and smaller. This anatomical difference is the reason for the higher number of middle ear infections experienced in childhood.
However, middle ear infections can occur in adults as well.
Middle ear infections often occur after a cold virus or upper respiratory infection. They are also more common in individuals who suffer from allergies or enlarged adenoids , which can inhibit proper functioning of the auditory tube.
Germs often enter through the auditory tube, which can then become swollen and blocked with mucus, preventing drainage and ventilation of the middle ear.
The main symptoms of middle ear infections include:
- Ear pain, which may be worse in the morning or cause difficulty sleeping
- Ear drainage
- Hearing loss
A doctor can diagnose a middle ear infection based on symptoms and an examination, which involves looking at the eardrum with an otoscope .
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Why Adults Get Ear Infections
Ear infections are often considered a childhood disease. It almost seems a rite of passage for children to experience repeat ear infections. Then, around the beginning of their teenage years, it often stops entirely. By the time a person hits adulthood, it is quite common to be decades of years removed from the last time he or she experienced an ear infection. It almost seems as though it is impossible for adults to get an ear infection, right? Unfortunately, although not as common in adults as it is in children, it is still possible for adults to suffer an ear infection. In fact, around 20% of ear infections occur in adults. This begs the question, why can adults still get them?
How Adults Get an Ear InfectionAdult ear infections are just like the ear infections a person would have gotten when he or she was a child. Most middle ear infections are 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.
Ear Infection Signs And Symptoms
The telltale sign of an ear infection is pain in and around the ear. Young children can develop ear infections before they are old enough to talk. That means parents are often left guessing why their child appears to be suffering. When your child can’t say “my ear hurts,” the following signs suggest an ear infection could be the culprit:
- Tugging or pulling the ear
- Crying and irritability
- Fever, especially in younger children
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty hearing or responding to auditory cues
Signs that require immediate attention include high fever, severe pain, or bloody or pus-like discharge from the ears.
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.
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What Is The Best Antibiotic For Gum Infection
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Why Do Children Get Many More Ear Infections Than Adults Will My Child Always Get Ear Infections
Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections for these reasons:
- The eustachian tubes in young children are shorter and more horizontal. This shape encourages fluid to gather behind the eardrum.
- The immune system of children, which in the bodys infection-fighting system, is still developing.
- The adenoids in children are relatively larger than they are in adults. The adenoids are the small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. As they swell to fight infection, they may block the normal ear drainage from the eustachian tube into the throat. This blockage of fluid can lead to a middle ear infection.
Most children stop getting ear infections by age 8.
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.
Different types of germs can cause infections in the ear, including bacteria, viruses, and even fungi. Infections can be brought on by an illness, such as a cold or allergies.
Ear infections generally occur when a germ gains entry into one of the three areas of the ear and grows there.
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Treating Middle Ear Infections
You may be prescribed antibiotics. Some antibiotics may be taken orally. Others can be applied directly to the site of the infection with ear drops. Medications for pain, such as over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used to manage your symptoms.
If youre still experiencing cold or allergy symptoms, you may be advised to take a , nasal steroids, or an antihistamine.
Another helpful technique is called autoinsufflation. Its meant to help clear your eustachian tubes. You do this by squeezing your nose, closing your mouth, and very gently exhaling. This can send air through the eustachian tubes to help drain them.
Does My Child Need To Take Medicine
Even if your child does have an ear infection, they still might not need antibiotics. Many children will start to feel better within a day, and by the end of a week 75 percent will feel better without medicine. Instead of antibiotics, painkillers can help with any discomfort. That said, a lot of factors are considered before going this route. For example, if the child is younger than 6 months old, or their symptoms are severe, antibiotics are almost always prescribed.
A childs overall health is considered before choosing to hold off on taking medicine. A child prone to illness might not be a good candidate for waiting, CEENTA ENT doctorRoss Udoff, MD, said.
In some cases, a doctor will give parents a prescription, but tell them to wait two or three days before filling it. If the childs health improves, they dont need the prescription.
Also, ear infections might be caused by a virus. If thats the case, antibiotics wont work, since they are only effective against bacteria.
Many doctors will try to avoid prescribing antibiotics if not needed, because many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. In fact, some bacteria have become immune to them.
This blog is forinformational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consultyour physician. Dr. Udoff practices in our Monroe office. To make an appointment with him or any of CEENTAs ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
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