Final Thoughts On Ear Infections & Treatment
Even though they are uncomfortable, ear infections are relatively common and easy to treat.
If you are in the Starkville, Mississippi region and considered about you or your childs health, be sure to contact us today. We are here for all your needs and concerns.
Ear conditions are usually caused by viruses or bacteria. But the question is, are ear infections contagious? Click here to learn more about them.
Can Labyrinthitis Be Prevented
You cannot get labyrinthitis from another person who has the condition. However, labyrinthitis often results from ear infections. An ear infection itself is not contagious, but the viruses and bacteria that cause them are. To prevent ear infections, practice good hygiene.
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid sharing food and drinks, especially with someone you know to have an ear infection
- Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke
Children should be vaccinated, specifically with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against several types of pneumococcal bacteria, which are the most common cause of ear infections.
What Are The Causes
Bacteria or viruses in the middle ear cause ear infections.
A person who has, or had, an upper respiratory infection may also develop an ear infection. Ear infections are not contagious. However, the respiratory infections that might accompany an ear infection are.
Enlarged adenoids, which are pads of tissue at the back of the nose, may also contribute to a double ear infection, especially in children.
An infection affecting only one ear may also occasionally develop into a double ear infection.
Hearing difficulties are probably the most common short-term complication of a double ear infection.
A persons hearing will typically return to normal once the infection clears up.
Persistent or recurrent infections can lead to:
- Hearing problems: Permanent damage to structures within the ear can cause hearing loss of varying degrees.
- Ruptured eardrum: A torn eardrum may occur after severe ear infections. It will usually heal within a few weeks.
- Delays in speech and development: Infants and toddlers who experience a prolonged hearing loss may experience delays in their speech and development.
- Spread of infection: As with all infections, there is a risk that a double ear infection will spread to other areas of the body.
Long-term complications following ear infections are uncommon.
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When Are You No Longer Contagious
Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial infections. These medications specifically target bacterial functions and can either kill bacteria or prevent them from thriving.
Youre typically considered no longer contagious after youve been on a regimen of antibiotics for a period of time, which depends on your type of infection.
For example, youre no longer contagious with strep throat after youve been on antibiotics for 24 hours and no longer have a fever.
Additionally, youre no longer contagious with whooping cough after five full days on antibiotics. People with chlamydia should abstain from sexual activity until theyve completed seven days of antibiotic treatment.
Its very important to speak with your doctor about your infection and how long you should expect to be contagious. Knowing this information can help prevent you from infecting others while you recover.
Bacterial infections can be acquired in several different ways, depending on the type of infection. Lets explore some examples of how some bacterial illnesses are spread.
How To Tell If You Have A Yeast Infection
Yeast infections typically cause skin rashes and itchiness. Oral thrush symptoms include a white film on your tongue, pain while swallowing, and sores in your mouth. People with a vaginal yeast infection may notice itching in or around their vagina, swelling, and burning when they urinate or have sex.
People with a penile yeast infection can experience white residue near the head of their penis, especially if they are uncircumcised, and an itchy rash. Anal yeast infections often cause itching, redness, or slight swelling near the anus and perineum.For most healthy people, yeast infections are often easy to treat and relatively benign however, these symptoms can resemble other, more serious illnesses. For example, your mouth pain may be strep throat or another infection if you have blisters in your throat, swollen tonsils, or a fever.
Likewise, genital itching and pain may also indicate a urinary tract infection or an STI. Anal irritation, especially during sex or while defecating, could indicate hemorrhoids or fissures, among other causes. Consult your healthcare provider right away if your skin irritation doesnt resolve in several days, if you develop a fever, if your pain worsens, or if your affected skin starts bleeding. A medical professional can determine the cause of your skin irritation.Many mild to moderate yeast infections can be treated at home with over-the-counter creams. More severe cases may require prescription medication.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Middle
Common symptoms of a middle-ear infection in adults are:
Pain in 1 or both ears
Drainage from the ear
You may also have a fever. Rarely, your balance can be affected.
These symptoms may be the same as for other conditions. Its important totalk with your health care provider if you think you have a middle-earinfection. If you have a high fever, severe pain behind your ear, orparalysis in your face, see your provider as soon as you can.
Where Is The Middle Ear
The middle ear is behind the eardrum and is also home to the delicate bones that aid in hearing. These bones are the hammer , anvil and stirrup . To provide the bigger picture, lets look at the whole structure and function of the ear:
The ear structure and function
There are three main parts of the ear: outer, middle and inner.
- The outer ear is the outside external ear flap and the ear canal .
- The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. The middle ear houses the delicate bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This is where ear infections occur.
- The inner ear contains the snail-shaped labyrinth that converts sound vibrations received from the middle ear to electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain.
Other nearby parts
- The eustachian tube regulates air pressure within the middle ear, connecting it to the upper part of the throat.
- Adenoids are small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids help fight infection caused by bacteria that enters through the mouth.
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Here Are Some Signs That Your Child Might Have An Ear Infection:
Several of these can look like what happens with normal growth and development, making it easy to miss that your child has an ear infection.
Ear tugging or rubbing is the telltale sign for an ear infection in a very young child. When a child keeps tugging at their ears chances are they have an ear infection and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. If the child also has a fever thats an indication of infection, definitely making it time to see a doctor.
Children have a few unique risk factors that make them prone to ear infections.
The most common is that their Eustachian tubes are shorter and more horizontal. This makes it easier for this connection between the middle ear and the respiratory system to become clogged and infected.
Are Middle Ear Infections Contagious
Middle ear infections or acute otitis media are usually caused by clogged Eustachian tubes. This means the middle ear cannot properly drain fluids, making it a suitable environment for invasive bacteria to multiply.
So, are middle ear infections contagious? No. Middle ear infections cannot be transmitted however, viral infections and bacteria that could trigger the infection are contagious.
Ear infections are more common in children since the Eustachian tubes are more narrow and less developed in young children and infants.
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How Long Do Ear Infections Last
The most common type of middle ear infection can last anywhere from a week to two weeks, with proper treatment. Bacterial ear infections treated with antibiotics typically improve in a matter of days. Inner ear infection typically last longer. Ear infections are considered chronic when they last over six weeks. Read more about how long ear infections last here.
What Causes Labyrinthitis Is It Contagious
The exact cause of labyrinthitis is unknown. It may be caused by swelling or problems with the nerve inside the brain responsible for balance and hearing. Labyrinthitis also may occur during or after a viral infection. Viruses associated with labyrinthitis include influenza, herpes viruses, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, Epstein-Barr virus, and polio.
Rarely, other ear problems like barotrauma or otosclerosis can cause labyrinthitis.
Labyrinthitis itself is not contagious, however, viral infections that lead to labyrinthitis are.
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What Does The Doctor Do
The doctor will look into your ear with a special flashlight called an otoscope . With the otoscope, the doctor can see your eardrum, the thin membrane between your outer and middle ear.
The doctor may use the otoscope to blow a little puff of air in your ear. Why? To see if the air causes your eardrum to move the way a healthy eardrum does. An infected eardrum won’t move as it should because the pus presses against it and may make it bulge. An infection also can make the eardrum red.
If you have an ear infection, the doctor will make a decision about what to do next. He or she might ask your parent to watch you over the next day or two to see if you get any better. The doctor also might suggest a pain reliever to keep you comfortable.
If bacteria are causing the problem, the doctor might prescribe a medicine called an antibiotic , which usually clears up a bacterial infection, so you’ll feel better in a few days.
If you are given an antibiotic, it’s very important to keep taking the medicine for as many days as the doctor instructs even if your ear stops hurting. If you don’t take all the medicine, the infection could come back and your ear will start hurting again.
A kid who has chronic, or frequent, ear infections might need a few other tests. They include an audiogram , which tests your hearing, and a tympanogram , a machine that checks whether your eardrum moves normally.
What Are The Goals Of Chronic Otitis Media Surgery
- The goals of surgery are to first remove all of the infected tissue so that it can be “safe” from recurrent infections.
- The second goal is to recreate a middle ear space with an intact eardrum.
Finally, hearing is to be restored.
- This may seem strange that hearing is the last priority, but if the first two priorities are not met, anything that is done to improve hearing will ultimately fail.
- If hearing is restored, but the infection returns, the hearing will be lost again.
- Likewise, if hearing is restored, but the middle ear space is not recreated, the eardrum will re-stick to the middle ear or the ossicles.
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What Are Other Causes Of Ear Pain
Other causes of ear pain include:
- A sore throat.
- Teeth coming in in a baby.
- An infection of the lining of the ear canal. This is also called swimmers ear.
- Pressure build up in the middle ear caused by allergies and colds.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/16/2020.
How Can I Tell If I Have Labyrinthitis How Is It Diagnosed
The only way to know if you have labyrinthitis or another ear problem is to see a doctor. Labyrinthitis symptoms such as dizziness and loss of balance can resemble other medical problems, so a doctor will rule out conditions that may cause the symptoms such as head injury, heart disease, stroke, side effects of medications, anxiety, and neurological disorders.
Make an appointment with your doctor, ENT or other healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of an ear infection such as:
- Ear pain
- Problems with balance or walking
- Hearing loss
The doctor will use an otoscope to examine the inside of the ear canal and eardrum to check for redness or swelling, earwax build-up, or any abnormalities in the ear. The doctor may gently puff air against the eardrum to see if it moves, which is normal. If the eardrum does not move, there may be fluid buildup in the middle ear.
A tuning fork exam may help diagnose neurologic hearing loss. Sound waves from the vibration of the tuning fork can be heard through the air and through the bones around the ear.
Some natural remedies and alternative treatments are touted as treatment or cures for labyrinthitis, including garlic oil or tea tree oil ear drops, apple cider vinegar, basil, olive oil, and hydrogen peroxide. Scientific studies do not show any of these to be effective.
Talk to your doctor before using any home remedies.
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Contact A Doctor For Ear Infections
You should contact a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of an ear infection that last longer than a day or two. While ear infections may clear up on their own, you should seek medical attention if the pain worsens or persists. You should consult with a doctor as soon as possible if you have fluid draining from your ear or if your hearing is impaired.
With proper treatment, ear infections generally resolve with no issues. But if ignored, and in rare cases, an ear infection can lead to serious health complications, such as:
- Hearing loss
- Facial nerve paralysis
- Mastoiditis: a rare inflammation of a bone that is adjacent to the ear
- Menieres disease: a condition that manifests as symptoms of vertigo, hearing loss, pressure in the ears and ringing in the ears
Dont let your ear infection worsen. Instead, get the proper treatment and medical attention you deserve with our professional doctors. Download our app, find a doctor near you, and have a consultation from the comfort of your own home.
What Limitations Are There On A Child With Middle Ear Infection Or Inflammation
- Otitis media is not contagious .
- A child with otitis media can travel by airplane but, if the Eustachian tube is not working well, the pressure change as the plane descends may cause the child pain.
- It is best not to fly with a draining ear.
- You should always consult your doctor if you have specific concerns.
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Is A Urinary Tract Infection Contagious
The bacteria that cause urinary tract infections may be contagious, but it is uncommon for it to be transmitted from one person to another. The bacteria that cause UTIs are almost never transmitted during sexual intercourse so it is unlikely to be contagious to a sexual partner. People who have who have anal intercourse have an increased risk of developing a UTI due to the bacteria in the colon.
While UTIs often occur after sexual intercourse, it is more likely due to bacteria that exist on the person before sexual activity rather than something transmitted to them from their partner. UTIs are not considered sexually transmitted diseases , which are contagious, transmitted through sexual contact, and may have similar symptoms to UTIs.
It is also improbable for a person to get a UTI from a toilet seat, as the urethra does not typically touch the seat when a person uses the toilet. It is technically possible for bacteria on a toilet seat to get on a persons buttocks and then spread to a persons genitals, but it is unlikely.
Phenazopyridine may also be used to numb the bladder and urethra and to reduce the burning pain of some UTIs.
Cranberry juice, cranberry tablets, and a supplement called D-mannose have been promoted to help prevent frequent bladder infections but there are no studies that show these products to be effective. However, use of these products probably is not harmful. Tell your doctor before taking any supplements.
Signs Of Ear Infection Complications
An ear infection is generally a non-serious condition, with complications being rare. In some cases, however, minor complications can occur. These may include:
- Rupture of the eardrum: Also known as a tympanic membrane rupture, this is one of the most common ear infection complications. The rupture does not hurt and may lead to relief from earache. The rupture will usually heal quickly, but antibiotics may be necessary.
- Hearing loss: The fluid buildup that may occur as a result of infection can persist after the infection itself has resolved. This can cause short-term, but also prolonged hearing loss. Generally, the fluid will disappear naturally, though surgical treatment is available if it persists for longer than roughly three months.
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing a complication of an ear infection, try using the Ada app to find out what the problem may be.
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What Is Middle Ear Infection Or Inflammation
Middle ear inflammation is also called otitis media. Otitis media is inflammation of the middle ear however, many doctors consider otitis media to be either inflammation or infection of the middle ear, the area inside the eardrum . “Otitis” means inflammation of the ear, and “media” means middle. This inflammation often begins with infections that cause sore throats, colds, or other respiratory problems, and spreads to the middle ear. Infections can be caused by viruses or bacteria, and can be acute or chronic. Both ears can be infected at the same time . These infections are not “swimmer’s ear” , but not beyond. However, some people can have swimmer’s ear and a middle ear infection at the same time.
Acute middle ear infections usually are of rapid onset and short duration. They typically are associated with fluid accumulation in the middle ear, signs or symptoms of infections in the ear, a bulging eardrum usually accompanied by pain or a perforated eardrum, and drainage of purulent material . The person also may have a fever.