Fluid Buildup And Hearing Problems
Fluid behind the eardrum after an ear infection is normal. And in most children, the fluid clears up within 3 months without treatment. If your child has fluid buildup without infection, you may try watchful waiting.
Have your child’s hearing tested if the fluid lasts longer than 3 months. If hearing is normal, you may choose to keep watching your child without treatment.
If a child has fluid behind the eardrum for more than 3 months and has significant hearing problems, then treatment is needed. Sometimes short-term hearing loss occurs, which is especially a concern in children ages 2 and younger. Normal hearing is very important when young children are learning to talk.
If your child is younger than 2, your doctor may not wait 3 months to start treatment. Hearing problems at this age could affect your child’s speaking ability. This is also why children in this age group are closely watched when they have ear infections.
If there is a hearing problem, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to keep the fluid in the ear from getting infected. The doctor might also suggest placing tubes in the ears to drain the fluid and improve hearing.
How To Make An Ear Infection Go Away
Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the health care provider. The most common type of ear infection is called otitis media. It is caused by swelling and infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is located just behind the eardrum.
An acute ear infection starts over a short period and is painful. Ear infections that last a long time or come and go are called chronic ear infections.
The eustachian tube runs from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat. Normally, this tube drains fluid that is made in the middle ear. If this tube gets blocked, fluid can build up. This can lead to infection.
- Ear infections are common in infants and children because the eustachian tubes are easily clogged.
- Ear infections can also occur in adults, although they are less common than in children.
Anything that causes the eustachian tubes to become swollen or blocked makes more fluid build up in the middle ear behind the eardrum. Some causes are:
- Excess mucus and saliva produced during teething
- Infected or overgrown adenoids
- Tobacco smoke
Ear infections are also more likely in children who spend a lot of time drinking from a sippy cup or bottle while lying on their back. Milk may enter the eustachian tube, which may increase the risk of an ear infection. Getting water in the ears will not cause an acute ear infection unless the eardrum has a hole in it.
Other risk factors for acute ear infections include:
How To Get Rid Of An Earache Fast
It doesnt matter how old you are earaches hurt. And since most earaches are not the result of a bacterial infection, antibiotics wont help get you better.
But you dont have to take a wait-and-see approach.
There are several earache treatment methods that can help to reduce your symptoms, including the pain and swelling youre experiencing.
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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.
Pain Relievers For Earaches
If you or your child is experiencing an infection, youll likely want relief from the pain fast.
For quick relief, your doctor may also suggest reaching for an over-the-counter pain reliever, with or without the addition of antibiotics.
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Why To Avoid Antibiotics When They’re Not Needed
Antibiotics often are not needed to treat an ear infection.
- Most ear infections will clear up on their own. This is true whether they are caused by bacteria or a virus.
- Antibiotics kill only bacteria. They won’t help with an infection caused by a virus.
- Antibiotics won’t help much with pain.
There are good reasons not to give antibiotics if they are not needed.
- Overuse of antibiotics can be harmful. If antibiotics are taken when they aren’t needed, they may not work later when they’re really needed. This is because bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics.
- Antibiotics can cause side effects, such as stomach cramps, nausea, rash, and diarrhea. They can also lead to vaginal yeast infections.
How Do Ear Infections Happen
A middle ear infection usually happens because of swelling in one or both of the eustachian tubes . The tubes let mucus drain from the middle ear into the throat.
A cold, throat infection, acid reflux, or allergies can make the eustachian tubes swell. This blocks the mucus from draining. Then, or grow in the mucus and make pus, which builds up in the middle ear.
When doctors refer to an ear infection, they usually mean otitis media rather than swimmer’s ear . Otitis media with effusion is when noninfected fluid builds up in the ear. It might not cause symptoms, but in some kids, the fluid creates a sensation of ear fullness or “popping.”
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Home Care To Relieve Ear Pain
If you have ear pain, itâs a good idea to talk with your doctor about it.
Thereâs little research to say whether or not home care works, but most doctors agree these treatments are safe to try yourself:
A cool or warm compress. Soak a washcloth in either cool or warm water, wring it out, and then put it over the ear that’s bothering you. Try both temperatures to see if one helps you more than the other.
A heating pad: Lay your painful ear on a warm, not hot, heating pad.
Over-the-counter ear drops with pain relievers. If they help at all, itâs only briefly. You shouldnât use these drops if your eardrum has a tear or hole, so check with your doctor first.
Chew gum. If youâre on an airplane or driving at high altitudes and your ear pain is from the change in air pressure, chew some gum. It can help lower that pressure and ease your symptoms.
Sleep upright. While it may sound strange, resting or sleeping sitting up rather than lying down can encourage fluid in your ear to drain. This could ease pressure and pain in your middle ear. Prop yourself up in bed with a stack of pillows, or sleep in an armchair thatâs a bit reclined.
Recurrent Or Chronic Ear Infections
For recurrent middle ear infections and lingering middle ear fluid that causes temporary hearing loss, an otolaryngologist may recommend a minor surgical procedure known as ear tube surgery, to insert a tubes into the eardrums.
This is usually an outpatient procedure. A doctor will typically make a small incision in the eardrum and place a small tube. The tube, also called a pressure equalization tube, aerates the middle ear space through the ear canal to allow any trapped fluids to dissipate. This procedure has become less common in recent years, reserved for children who are having trouble hearing as a result of recurring middle ear infections.
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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.
When To Come Into Gohealth Urgent Care
Most earaches will go away in a few days. But if it doesnt get better, or symptoms worsen in 24 to 48 hours, its time to visit a GoHealth Urgent Care center.
Other reasons to seek medical advice include:
- Pus-like fluid or blood oozing from the ear
- A high fever
- Headache and dizziness
- Swelling behind the ear
- An object might be stuck in your ear and needs to be removed
- Severe ear pain that suddenly stops
Healthcare professionals at our centers regularly see and treat earaches and ear infections. Just use the dropdown below to save your spot online or you can walk in to the GoHealth Urgent Care nearest you.
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How Do I Know If Ive Ruptured An Eardrum
A variety of things can cause your eardrum to rupture, including ear infections, foreign objects, and stress from pressure differences between the middle ear and the outside environment.
You should always be sure to contact your doctor if youre experiencing any of the symptoms of a ruptured eardrum. Some symptoms to look out for include:
- ear pain that comes on and then quickly goes away
- hearing loss
How Do You Make An Ear Infection Stop Hurting
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What Can You Do For A Childs Earache
In addition to ibuprofen or acetaminophen, Dr. Baker recommends cold or warm packs on the ears or neck as well. Children suffering from an earache caused by a cold or flu virus can be given plenty of water and given a humidifier in their room to help drain the secretions from their Eustachian tubes.
Can Ear Infections Affect Hearing
Fluid buildup in the middle ear also blocks sound, which can lead to temporary hearing problems. Kids having a problem might:
- not respond to soft sounds
- need to turn up the TV or radio
- talk louder
- seem inattentive at school
In kids who have otitis media with effusion, the fluid behind the eardrum can block sound, so mild temporary hearing loss can happen, but might not be obvious.
A child whose eardrum has ruptured might have ringing or buzzing in the ear and not hear as well as usual.
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Fever In Young Infants
If a baby younger than 3 months old has a rectal temperature or forehead temperature of 100.4 F or higher, they need to go to the emergency room, even if there are no other symptoms.
For infants age 6 months or older, toddlers, and older children: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are options.
Never give children aspirin, as it puts them at risk of a rare but serious condition known as Reye’s syndrome.
For adults: Acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen can help. Neither aspirin nor naproxen should be given to children unless directed by a healthcare provider.
Can An Ear Infection Go Away On Its Own
Its truean ear infection can go away on its own in some cases. The term ear infection typically refers to acute otitis media, or an infection that impacts the middle ear directly behind the eardrum. The outside of the ear may also become infected, as can the inner ear, although these conditions are less common.
Ear infections are caused by viruses or bacteria. They can affect anyone, although children are more likely to develop ear infections than adults. Because some ear infections can go away on their own, treatment usually begins with self-care measuressuch as over-the-counter ear drops and pain relieversto ease symptoms.
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Family Medicine At Tufts Medical Center Community Care
Ear infection treatment is one of our many fortes at Tufts Medical Center Community Carea multispecialty medical group serving families throughout north suburban Boston. Our team includes family medicine physicians who specialize in treating both children and adults, providing local families a convenient source for top-quality, comprehensive medical care.
Heres what you can expect as a patient at Tufts Medical Center Community Care:
- Multiple easily accessible locations with ample free parking
- Better-than-average appointment availability, including limited weekend and evening appointments
- A seamless, all-in-one care experience from a multidisciplinary team of clinicians
- Multiple safety-enhancing measures as part of our Safe With Us pledge
For ear infection treatment, check-ups and much more, turn to the family medicine physicians at Tufts Medical Center Community Care. Our team is ready to help! Contact us today to schedule a visit or request an appointment online. We accept most major health insurance plans, including Tricare, Medicare and Medicaid.
What Increases Your Risk
Some things that increase your child’s risk of a middle ear infection are out of your control. These include:
- Being 3 years old or younger.
- Birth defects or other medical conditions, such as cleft palate or Down syndrome.
- A weakened immune system.
- A family history of ear infections.
- Allergies that cause long-term stuffiness in the nose and can block one or both eustachian tubes.
- Repeated colds and upper respiratory infections.
Other things can increase your child’s risk of ear infection. They include:
- Being exposed to cigarette smoke.
- Being bottle fed.
Things that increase the risk of repeated ear infections include:
- Being in a childcare center with many other children.
- Getting the first ear infection before 6 months of age.
- Having persistent fluid behind the eardrum.
- Having an ear infection in the last 3 months, especially if it was treated with antibiotics.
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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
When To See A Doctor About An Earache
Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends seeing a doctor if:
- Yoursymptoms remain after twoor three days, even if youve tried over-the-counter or home remedies.
- Yourear is very painful, oryou have other symptoms that bother you.
Other common conditions, such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction , can masquerade as earache infections. TMJ causes ear pain because the ear canal and the jaw joint share a nerve. If you have ear pain along with trouble chewing, talking or yawning, then you should see a dentist or TMJ expert to be sure youre treating the right condition, notes Dr. Nguyen-Huynh.
The good news? Hot and cold compresses and OTC pain relievers can also help relieve TMJ pain until you sort things out.
What Draws Out An Ear Infection
Icing alcohol should be mixed with equal parts apple cider vinegar. Use a clean dropper bottle or baby syringe to apply 5 to 10 drops per affected ear. Droppings can be entered and absorbed into your ear by covering it with a cotton ball or clean cloth and leaning on your side. About five minutes later, you should be done.
Can You Treat A Childs Ear Infection At Home
It usually takes one to two weeks for ear infections to resolve on their own. In most cases, ear infections are treated within three days and the symptoms, such as pain and inflammation, are usually gone. If you have symptoms during this time, you can use a warm compress or an over-the-counter pain medication.
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Fluid Buildup And Surgery
Doctors may consider surgery for children who have repeat ear infections or who keep getting fluid behind the eardrum. Procedures include inserting ear tubes or removing adenoids and, in rare cases, the tonsils.
Fluid behind the eardrum after an ear infection is normal. And, in most children, the fluid clears up within 3 months without treatment. If your child has fluid buildup without infection, you may try watchful waiting.
Have your child’s hearing tested if the fluid lasts longer than 3 months. If hearing is normal, you may choose to keep watching your child without treatment.
If a child has fluid behind the eardrum for more than 3 months and has significant hearing problems, then treatment is needed. Sometimes short-term hearing loss occurs. This is especially a concern in children ages 2 and younger. Normal hearing is very important when young children are learning to talk.
If your child is younger than 2, your doctor may not wait 3 months to start treatment. Hearing problems at this age could affect how well your child can speak. This is also why children in this age group are closely watched when they have ear infections.