What Is Middle Ear Infection
The ear is made up of three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts all work together so you can hear and process sounds. The outer and middle ear are separated by the eardrum a very thin piece of skin that vibrates when hit by sound waves.
This page deals with middle ear infection which is the infection / inflammation of the air-filled space behind the eardrum. This space can become blocked and filled with mucus , which can become infected, causing inflammation.
There are two types of middle ear infection. An acute infection starts suddenly and lasts for a short period of time, while a chronic ear infection is one that does not get better or keeps coming back. Chronic ear infection can result in long-term damage to the ear.
Sometimes fluid will remain in the middle ear after an ear infection, causing “glue ear“, a relatively common condition that is often undetected among New Zealand pre-schoolers. Glue ear can adversely affect hearing and may take several weeks to resolve. Children with a suspected ear infection, or who have difficulty hearing, should see a doctor. Children with evidence of damage to the inside of the ear, hearing loss, or language learning delay are likely to be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist .
What Are The Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
Ear infections can be uncomfortable and painful. If you have pain and pressure in your ear, you might suspect that you have one.
But babies and toddlers usually dont have the words yet to tell you that they have ear pain. So, how do you know if your child has an ear infection?
Common signs that may be an indication of an ear infection in young children include:
- Body language. Watch out for your baby or toddler pulling on their ear. This could be an indication of ear pain.
- Fever. A fever is a sign that the body is trying to fight off an infection.
- Fussiness or irritability. Is your child cranky and irritable for no other reason? Are they crying more than usual, too?
- Ear drainage. Pus or fluid draining out the ear is a common sign of an ear infection. The fluid may be yellow or bloody, which signifies a ruptured eardrum.
- Trouble hearing. When fluid builds up in the middle ear, it can create temporary hearing loss.
- Unsteadiness. The fluid in the ear can also upset your childs sense of balance, leading to unsteadiness or even dizziness.
- Inability to lie down comfortably. Lying down can cause an uncomfortable shift in pressure within the middle ear.
- Diarrhea. A child with an ear infection may sometimes experience some diarrhea or vomiting.
Many of these symptoms are also signs of an ear infection in older children and adults.
In general, the most common causes of hearing loss include:
- large quantities of aspirin
How Do You Remove Water Stuck In Your Ear
Tugging on the earlobe and shaking your head should help water flow out of the ear canal, or you can create a vacuum with the palm of your hand. Using a solution that’s 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% white vinegar after swimming can also dry the ear canal and may prevent infections caused by swimmers ear.
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Chronic Otitis Media And Hearing Loss
- Chronic Otitis Media and Hearing Loss
What is otitis media?
Otitis media refers to inflammation of the middle ear. When infection occurs, the condition is called “acute otitis media.” Acute otitis media occurs when a cold, allergy, or upper respiratory infection, and the presence of bacteria or viruses lead to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the Eustachian tube. This causes earache and swelling.
When fluid forms in the middle ear, the condition is known as “otitis media with effusion.” This occurs in a recovering ear infection or when one is about to occur. Fluid can remain in the ear for weeks to many months. When a discharge from the ear persists or repeatedly returns, this is sometimes called chronic middle ear infection. Fluid can remain in the ear up to three weeks following the infection. If not treated, chronic ear infections have potentially serious consequences such as temporary or permanent hearing loss.How does otitis media affect a childs hearing?
All children with middle ear infection or fluid have some degree of hearing loss. The average hearing loss in ears with fluid is 24 decibels…equivalent to wearing ear plugs. Thicker fluid can cause much more loss, up to 45 decibels .
Do children lose their hearing for reasons other than chronic otitis media?
Children can incur temporary hearing loss for other reasons than chronic middle ear infection and Eustachian tube dysfunction. They include:
Causes Of Fluid In The Ear
Fluid in ear can build up due to many reasons. It is a mucous like liquid which usually gets collected in the middle ear. This trapped fluid may result in many other bacterial, viral and fungal infections which in severe conditions may even cause hearing loss. Following are some of the causes of fluid in the ear which will help you to avoid such situations or get them diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
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Tips To Prevent Sinus Infections
In order to avoid ear pain and temporary hearing loss due to clogged ears as a result of sinus infections one must prevent sinus infections. Here are some tips to help you prevent sinus infections and avoid the complications associated with it.
- Control your allergies.
- Keep hydrated, which keeps mucus thin.
- Reduce alcohol consumption, which can worsen mucus.
- Minimize exposure to people with cold or flu.
- Always wash your hands and avoid germs.
- Avoid chlorinated swimming pools.
- Take a nasal spray or decongestant prior to flying.
- Dont smoke, which can aggravate sinusitis, or quit smoking.
These tips can better help protect you against sinus infections. If you do develop a sinus infection, begin treatment right away to reduce complications.
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Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University . He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine , and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.
How Is Otitis Media With Effusion Diagnosed
If you think your child may have otitis media with effusion, make an appointment your childs doctor. He or she will look in your childs ears. They will look at the eardrum for signs that there may be fluid behind it. They may order a test called tympanometry. It can diagnose otitis media with effusion. It can also help tell the amount and thickness of the fluid that is trapped. They may also want to do a hearing test on your child.
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In This Video Ross Hauser Md Discusses General Problems Of Ear Pain Ear Fullness Sound Sensitivity And Hearing Problems
Below is the transcript summary and explanatory notes:
- As the video starts, Dr. Hauser makes a connection between cervical spine/neck instability and cause problems related to the ear and hearing.
- Our website has numerous articles on hearing problems as they related to cervical spine instability and chronic neck pain and dysfunction. Each article is supported by updated medical research and citation. These articles include:
Types Of Hearing Loss
There are three main types of hearing loss:
Conductive hearing loss happens because of a problem in the ear canal, eardrum, or the middle ear that prevents sound from carrying well to the inner ear. An ear infection, trauma, a mass , fluid, or an object in the ear can cause it.
Sensorineural hearing loss happens most often from damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. Other causes include damage to the nerve for hearing, called the auditory nerve, or the brain. It usually happens as you get older, but it also can happen because of noise exposure, chemotherapy, radiation, trauma, and your genes. Learn more about what causes sensorineural hearing loss.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. There may be a problem in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear or auditory nerve. It can happen after a head injury, long-term infection, or because of a disorder that runs in your family.
Hearing loss can affect one or both ears. It can happen suddenly or gradually get worse over time. If you notice sudden hearing loss, you should see an ear, nose, and throat specialist as soon as possible.
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How Does The Ear Work
It helps to understand how the ear works before describing what can cause problems for the ear. The ear is made up of 3 main parts: 1) the outer ear, 2) the middle ear, and 3) the inner ear. The outer ear extends from the flap of skin on the outside of your head up to the ear drum. The outer ear acts like a funnel to quickly send sounds to the ear drum.
The ear drum is where the middle ear starts. Behind the ear drum is the middle ear space, which is normally filled with air. The opening of the eustachian tube is in the middle ear space. This tube connects the middle ear space with the upper part of the throat. The tube opens and closes many times during the day. For example, it opens when we swallow or yawn. Sometimes you can hear it open, or “pop.” When it opens, it lets fresh air into the middle ear from the air around us. This tube helps make the pressure in the middle ear equal to the pressure of the air outside the ear. This is why our ears pop when we change altitude, like when we travel over a mountain or take off and land in an airplane.
Three tiny bones inside the middle ear are named for their shapes: the malleus , the incus , and the stapes . These bones connect to form a chain. The first bone, the malleus, is connected to the ear drum. The last bone, the stapes, is connected to another tiny membrane called the oval window.
What Happens At Your Appointment
The GP should be able to tell if it’s glue ear by looking for fluid inside the ear.
They’ll use a small scope with a light and magnifying glass. This should not be painful.
If your child has had glue ear for more than 3 months, they may be referred to a specialist for hearing tests.
Hearing tests can help find out how severe any hearing loss is and what’s causing it.
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Severe Hearing Loss Causes
When your hearing is normal, sound waves enter your outer ear and cause your eardrum and middle ear bones to vibrate. The sound waves then travel through your inner ear, which is a shell-shaped, fluid-filled tube called the cochlea. As the fluid moves, it sets in motion thousands of tiny hairs that convert the sound vibrations into nerve signals. Those signals go to your brain where they are turned into sounds you can recognize.
Hearing loss happens when there’s a problem with the parts of the ear that you use to hear. Any of these conditions can lead to severe hearing loss:
Age. As people get older, some parts in the ear become less elastic. The tiny hairs get damaged and canât respond to sound waves as well. Hearing loss can get worse over several years.
Loud noise. The blare of power tools, airplanes, or loud music on headphones, for example, can damage the hair cells in the cochlea. How much hearing you lose depends on the volume of the sound and how long you were around it. Learn more about noise-induced hearing loss.
Ear infections. They can make fluid build up in the middle ear. Usually, the hearing loss from an ear infection is mild and goes away shortly. But if you donât treat the infections, they can lead to serious long-term problems.
Illnesses or infections. Measles, mumps, syphilis, and meningitis are just a few of the conditions that can cause hearing loss.
Meniereâs disease. Symptoms of this inner ear disorder include:
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Causes
Causes of eustachian tube dysfunction include the common cold, or infections of the throat, nasal, ear, or sinus. Thick mucus or a blocked nose from the common cold or an infection may cause the eustachian tube to become blocked. This occurs when the infection causes the lining of the tube to come swollen or infected, which usually occurs during the common cold. These symptoms can last up to one week. It is caused by trapped mucus and inflammation, which takes a while to clear even after the germs causing the infection have been removed.
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Idiopathic Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
In many patients there is no clear explanation why the eustachian tube does not open spontaneously. Since ETD may lead to other more serious issues, it is important to somehow restore function of the eustachian tube. Recurrent placement of ventilation tubes is an option. Another option is balloon eustachian tube dilation. In this procedure an endoscope is used to direct a catheter through the nose into the opening of the eustachian tube in the nasopharynx. This catheter has a balloon at the end. Once in position, the balloon is inflated. This has been shown to be effective at restoring function of the eustachian tube in most patients.
What Causes Fluid In The Ear And What Does It Mean
Infections of both the outer and the middle ear can be attributed to fluid in the ear according to the Mayo Clinic and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders respectively but they are two different ailments with different treatments.
What causes anouter ear infection?
According to the Mayo Clinic when water remains in your ear after swimming the moisture can invite bacterial growth and then your outer ear canal can become infected. This outer ear infection or swimmers ear can also happen when you put something like a cotton swab into your ear and it damages the skin that lines your ear canal.
If your child is suffering from swimmers ear they may complain of some itching or pain they may have a hard time hearing and you may see yellowish pus ooze from the infected ear as the American Academy of Pediatrics notes.
Treatment for an outer ear infection
When you bring your child to the doctor they may prescribe ear drops according to the AAP who also recommends using a preventative at-home solution after swimming to keep their ears dry.
The AAP also suggests that using cotton swabs to clean childrens ears may not be necessary.
What causes a middle ear infection?
One of the most common causes of hearing loss in children is fluid in the ear from a middle ear infection according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association . Luckily this type of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss is not usually permanent.
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Fluids Behind The Eardrum In Adults: Causes & Treatment
It is quite common that children are found with fluid behind eardrum, adults though seldom diagnosed with the same symptom, it sometimes does occur. Fluid behind eardrum, known medically as otitis media with effusion , is the accumulation of fluid, often in the middle of the ear, with no sign or other symptoms of an ear infection. This can occur in one or both ears, and can sometimes last for prolonged periods of time, although this is more often the case in adults than in children. This condition can be associated with a feeling of discomfort within the ear, or a feeling of fullness. In some cases, moderate to severe hearing loss can occur. On most occasions, the condition will self-resolve after around 12 weeks, meaning no significant intervention will be required.
How Are Ear Infections Treated
Treating a middle ear infection usually involves two steps: Treating the pain, and then, if symptoms dont improve, prescribing antibiotic medication to fight the infection. Doctors sometimes wait to prescribe antibiotics because an otherwise healthy child may be able to fight the infection on their own, helping a child avoid side effects and other risks of antibiotics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends focusing on pain management for the first 1 to 2 days before prescribing antibiotics. Over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen are recommended for pain relief, and occasionally ear drops that contain pain medicine.
Doctors sometimes wait to prescribe antibiotics, because the infection may clear up on its own.
If a doctor prescribes antibiotics to treat a middle ear infection, it is usually amoxicillin. This oral antibiotic works to destroy the infection. Over time, inflammation will get better, and the Eustachian tubes can properly ventilate the middle ear.
Until the backed-up fluids have cleared, your child is prone to recurrent infections. It is important to take the entire course of prescribed antibioticseven though the symptoms may have subsided. Older children may report being able to hear better several days after they have resumed normal activities. This is a sign that the fluid build-up has resolved.
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Apply Pressure/create A Vacuum
Sometimes, gravity isnt enough. Another way to get rid of fluid in the ears is by using pressure and creating a vacuum in your ear canal. With your head tilted to the side, you can press, push, or cover your ear with your hand, which will help create a vacuum. Remove your hand quickly, and the trapped water may drain. As well, gently tugging on your earlobe can sometimes open up your ears enough to allow the water to come out.