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.
Causes Of Ear Infection
Ear infections are typically caused by viral or bacterial infections, often as a result of other conditions such as a cold or flu. In the case of otitis media, these illnesses can result in a blockage of the Eustachian tubes. This blockage creates a vacuum which allows bacteria to enter the middle ear.
In the case of outer ear infections, certain factors make the occurrence more likely. These include:
- Substances in the ear: Water or other substances in the ear may create an environment where an accumulation of bacteria becomes more likely. This can cause infection. The subsequent itching after infection can cause skin irritation, which may make an infection worse. As otitis externa is common in people who swim regularly, the condition is sometimes referred to as swimmerâs ear.
- Warm weather: The condition is more common in warmer countries.
- Skin issues: Irritated skin, as a result of skin problems such as eczema, may make otitis externa more likely.
- Otitis media: Ear discharge as a result of otitis media can sometimes become lodged in the ear and cause otitis externa.
Inner ear infections , in most cases, follow a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. Less commonly, labyrinthitis can be caused by an infection that affects the rest of the body, such as measles, mumps and glandular fever. In rare cases, both labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis can be caused by a bacterial infection.
When To Visit The Doctor
If you think your child has an ear infection either middle ear or outer ear call PlunketLine or take them to a doctor.
Antibiotics arent usually needed to treat an ear infection, since the infections are usually viral . Your doctor may wait to see whether the infection will clear up by itself. However, if your child is unwell and feverish, your doctor may recommend antibiotics.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- How can I keep my child comfortable at night with the pain of an ear infection?
- Is there drainage with an ear infection?
- What is the difference between an ear infection and swimmers ear?
- Is my child a candidate for ear tubes?
- What are the risks and benefits of surgically inserting tubes inside my childs middle ear?
- Should my child get regular hearing tests if they have frequent ear infections?
Why Do Kids Get Ear Infections
Kids get ear infections more than adults do for several reasons:
- Their shorter, more horizontal eustachian tubes let bacteria and viruses find their way into the middle ear more easily. The tubes are also narrower, so more likely to get blocked.
- Their adenoids, gland-like structures at the back of the throat, are larger and can interfere with the opening of the eustachian tubes.
Other things that can put kids at risk include secondhand smoke, bottle-feeding, and being around other kids in childcare. Ear infections are more common in boys than girls.
Ear infections are not contagious, but the colds that sometimes cause them can be. Infections are common during winter weather, when many people get upper respiratory tract infections or colds .
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How Do Doctors Screen For An Ear Infection
Our team of audiology experts will perform an inner ear exam using an otoscope. Early screening could identify inner ear abnormalities, such as redness, air bubbles, thick fluid build-up or drainage, and perforations . Our specialists at Cross Timbers ENT located in Arlington, Midlothian, or Mansfield, TX may perform additional tests, including fluid cultures to identify potential bacterial infections, CT scans to assess infection beyond the middle ear, and hearing exams.
Longer Term Effects Of Inner Ear Infections
Generally, the symptoms will clear up as soon as the infection is gone. However, the effects can sometimes last longer.
You might still feel dizzy and off-balance even when the other symptoms caused by the infection have gone. This can be a sign that the balance organs were damaged. Your brain can usually learn to work with these changes, so your sense of balance should usually come back by itself. However, if youre struggling to cope or the problem persists, you should see an ENT specialist. The doctor can check for any underlying causes and may refer you for vestibular rehabilitation therapy to help you to recover your balance.
Inner ear infections can also have a longer term effect on your hearing. This is more likely if you had bacterial infection, so your doctor might recommend a hearing test to check on your ears after the infection.
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How Can I Tell If My Child Has An Ear Infection
Most ear infections happen to children before theyve learned how to talk. If your child isnt old enough to say My ear hurts, here are a few things to look for:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Fussiness and crying
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Clumsiness or problems with balance
- Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds
Signs Of Otitis Media
Otitis media, or middle ear infection, is the most common type of ear infection. It is an infection of the cavity behind the eardrum, which is connected to the rear of the throat by the Eustachian tube.
Usually, this cavity is filled with air. As a result of a cold or a similar condition, the cavity may be filled with mucus. When this mucus becomes infected, otitis media results.
Signs and symptoms of otitis media typically include:
- Pain in the ear
- Impaired hearing
- High temperature
- Discharge from the ear
Pain in the ear can occur as a result of an ear infection, but it can also indicate a variety of other conditions. If a person experiences severe ear pain or if the pain lasts for longer than a few days, medical attention should be sought.
In many cases, the signs and symptoms will clear up naturally within a couple of days without treatment.
If you are concerned that you may have a middle ear infection, try using the Ada app to find out what the problem may be.
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How To Tell If You Have An Inner Ear Infection
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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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How Do You Treat Your Babys Ear Infection
Treatment for your babys ear infection will depend on their age and how severe the infection is. Your pediatrician may recommend over-the-counter pain medication as needed and keeping an eye on it. If your child has a fever or the ear infection is not improving, your pediatrician will most likely prescribe oral antibiotic liquid to clear up the infection.
What Research Is Being Done On Middle Ear Infections
Researchers sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders are exploring many areas to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of middle ear infections. For example, finding better ways to predict which children are at higher risk of developing an ear infection could lead to successful prevention tactics.
Another area that needs exploration is why some children have more ear infections than others. For example, Native American and Hispanic children have more infections than do children in other ethnic groups. What kinds of preventive measures could be taken to lower the risks?
Doctors also are beginning to learn more about what happens in the ears of children who have recurring ear infections. They have identified colonies of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, called biofilms, that are present in the middle ears of most children with chronic ear infections. Understanding how to attack and kill these biofilms would be one way to successfully treat chronic ear infections and avoid surgery.
Understanding the impact that ear infections have on a childs speech and language development is another important area of study. Creating more accurate methods to diagnose middle ear infections would help doctors prescribe more targeted treatments. Researchers also are evaluating drugs currently being used to treat ear infections, and developing new, more effective and easier ways to administer medicines.
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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.
Ear Infections: Most Common Cause
- Definition. An infection of the middle ear . Viral ear infections are more common than bacterial ones.
- Symptoms. The main symptom is an earache. Younger children will cry, act fussy or have trouble sleeping because of pain. About 50% of children with an ear infection will have a fever.
- Diagnosis. A doctor can diagnose a bacterial ear infection by looking at the eardrum. It will be bulging and have pus behind it. For viral ear infections, the eardrum will be red but not bulging.
- Age Range. 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.
- Frequency. 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.
- Complication of Bacterial Ear Infections. In 5% to 10% of children, the eardrum will develop a small tear. This is from the pressure in the middle ear. The ear then drains cloudy fluid or pus. This small hole most often heals over in 2 or 3 days.
- Treatment. Bacterial ear infections need an oral antibiotic. Viral ear infections get better on their own. They need pain medicine and supportive care.
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Living With An Ear Infection
If your child suffers from several ear infections each year, youll want to look out for symptoms every time they have a stuffy nose or congestion.
Never stick anything in your childs ear to relieve the pain of an ear infection, to remove the tubes or remove a foreign object. See your childs doctor to have it removed.
How Middle Ear Infections Are Treated
Make sure any painkillers you give to your child are appropriate for their age. Read more about giving your child painkillers.
Antibiotics aren’t routinely used to treat middle ear infections, although they may occasionally be prescribed if symptoms persist or are particularly severe.
Read more about treating middle ear infections
How To Know If You Have Earwax Buildup
Do you feel mild discomfort in your ear? There are some signs that can reveal if you have a buildup of earwax . It is advisable to clean your ears so you can look after your well-being and your hearing. Wax is a natural bodily mechanism that is created to keep your ear canals protected and to prevent any infection that may penetrate this area. However, when it is created in abundance, you can experience some discomfort which is easy to treat. In this OneHowTo article, we will explain how to know if you have earwax buildup by telling you some of this conditionâs most obvious symptoms so you can help them to clean naturally.
In order to know if you have earwax buildup, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with the symptoms that may occur in relation to this condition. The most common symptoms include:
- Hearing loss: Wax buildup can produce a sensation of a âplugâ in the ear and consequently, a loss in hearing. This usually occurs suddenly and not gradually, i.e. from one day to the next, you get up feeling like you are âdeafâ and are unable to hear clearly.
- Hearing your own voice: It is also common for people with a plug of earwax to hear their own voice echoing when they speak.
- Pain in the ear area: It is also possible that an accumulation of wax can produce some pain in the area which is usually mild but can become worse if not treated immediately. So if you feel any discomfort, see your doctor so they can remove the wax and restore your health.
Tips To Prevent Swimmers Ear:
- After showering, hair washing or swimming, help the water run out of the ear by having your child tilt her head to one side.
- Hold a hair dryer, set on low, at arms length away from the ear to dry it.
- Dont use cotton swabs to clean the ear as this can pack the earwax and cause water to get trapped behind it.
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What Are The Types Of Middle
Infections can affect the middle ear in several ways. They are:
Acute otitis media. This middle-ear infection occurs suddenly. It causes swelling and redness. Fluid and mucus become trapped inside the ear. You can have a fever and ear pain.
Otitis media with effusion. Fluid and mucus build up in the middle ear after the infection goes away. You may feel like your middle ear is full. This can continue for months and may affect your hearing.
Chronic otitis media with effusion. Fluid remains in the middle ear for a long time. Or it builds up again and again, even though there is no infection. This type of middle-ear infection may be hard to treat. It may also affect your hearing.
Treatment For Middle Ear Infection
Symptoms of middle ear infection usually improve by themselves within 24-48 hours, so antibiotics arent often needed.
You can give your child paracetamol in recommended doses to help with pain. Your GP might suggest some anaesthetic ear drops if your child has severe pain.
If your child still has pain and is unwell after 48 hours, is particularly unwell or is less than 12 months old, your GP might prescribe a short course of antibiotics, usually penicillin.
Most children improve after a few days of antibiotic treatment, but always make sure your child finishes the whole treatment, even if she seems better. Stopping too soon could make the infection come back. Often your GP will want to see your child again when your child has finished the treatment, to make sure the infection has cleared up.
Putting cotton wool in your childs ear or cleaning discharge with a cotton bud can damage the ear. It isnt recommended.
Recurrent ear infections Some children with recurrent ear infections or glue ear might need a long course of antibiotics.
Glue ear generally improves within three months. Your GP will need to monitor your child during this time to check that its getting better.
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The Link To Hearing Loss
Middle ear infections can affect your childs hearing. This can be unsettling, but its almost always temporary and doesnt result in any permanent hearing loss. Still, any hearing loss should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Addressing hearing loss is important because infants and toddlers who suffer from chronic ear infections experience stretches of mild hearing loss during a crucial learning period for speech and language.