When You Need Themand When You Dont
Many children get ear infections. The infections are usually in the middle ear behind the eardrum. They may be caused by bacteria or by a virus. Doctors often treat bacterial infections with antibiotics. Antibiotics are strong medicines that kill bacteria.
Infants and some babies and children do need antibiotics.
But using antibiotics too often can be harmful. Heres why:
In most cases, antibiotics are not needed.
- They do not work for ear infections caused by viruses.
- They do not help the pain.
- Usually, viral infections and many bacterial infections go away on their own in two to three days, especially in children who are over two years old.
First, call the doctor and treat the pain.
If you suspect your child has an ear infection, you should call the doctors office and describe the symptoms. Usually, your doctor should ask you to wait a few days before bringing your child in.
The main sign of an ear infection is pain, especially on the first day. Or, a child may have a fever.
Start by giving your child an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as:
- acetaminophen .
- ibuprofen .
Antibiotics do not relieve pain in the first 24 hours. They only have a small effect on pain after that.; So, pain relievers are an important treatment, and usually they are the only treatment needed.
When is treatment with antibiotics needed?If the infection is very painful and lasts more than a few days, chances are it is a bacterial infection.
What Are The Harms Of Fluid Buildup In Your Ears Or Repeated Or Ongoing Ear Infections
Most ear infections dont cause long-term problems, but when they do happen, complications can include:
- Loss of hearing: Some mild, temporary hearing loss usually occurs during an ear infection. Ongoing infections, infections that repeatedly occur, damage to internal structures in the ear from a buildup of fluid can cause more significant hearing loss.
- Delayed speech and language development: Children need to hear to learn language and develop speech. Muffled hearing for any length of time or loss of hearing can significantly delay or hamper development.
- Tear in the eardrum: A tear can develop in the eardrum from pressure from the long-lasting presence of fluid in the middle ear. About 5% to 10% of children with an ear infection develop a small tear in their eardrum. If the tear doesnt heal on its own, surgery may be needed. If you have drainage/discharge from your ear, do not place anything into your ear canal. Doing so can be dangerous if there is an accident with the item touching the ear drum.
- Spread of the infection: Infection that doesnt go away on its own, is untreated or is not fully resolved with treatment may spread beyond the ear. Infection can damage the nearby mastoid bone . On rare occasions, infection can spread to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord and cause meningitis.
What Happens If My Child Keeps Getting Ear Infections
To keep a middle ear infection from coming back, it helps to limit some of the factors that might put your child at risk, such as not being around people who smoke and not going to bed with a bottle. In spite of these precautions, some children may continue to have middle ear infections, sometimes as many as five or six a year. Your doctor may want to wait for several months to see if things get better on their own but, if the infections keep coming back and antibiotics arent helping, many doctors will recommend a surgical procedure that places a small ventilation tube in the eardrum to improve air flow and prevent fluid backup in the middle ear. The most commonly used tubes stay in place for six to nine months and require follow-up visits until they fall out.
If placement of the tubes still doesnt prevent infections, a doctor may consider removing the adenoids to prevent infection from spreading to the eustachian tubes.
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Signs That You Might Be Dealing With An Ear Infection
Learn to spot the warning signs of an ear infection.
If you have children then chances are good that know just how easy it is for them to develop ear infections. Its important to be able to recognize the symptoms and signs of an ear infection, particularly in infants and young children that cant tell you that their ears hurt. From the office of our Columbia, SC audiologists Dr. Kathryn McGee and Dr. Jason Wigand, here are some warning signs that your child may be dealing with an ear infection,
- Tugging or pulling at the ears
- Increased fussiness or clinginess
- Difficulty sleeping or crying when lying down
- Changes in hearing or trouble hearing certain sounds
- Pus or fluid draining from the ears
An ear infection occurs when the middle ear becomes inflamed, which is the result of a bacterial or viral infection. When this happens, fluid builds up behind the eardrum, resulting in pain. Otitis media is the most common type of ear infection.
If your child is displaying any of the symptoms above or if they are old enough to tell you that they are experiencing ear pain then its a good idea to schedule an appointment with one of our Columbia, SC, ear doctors.
How are ear infections treated?
With five convenient locations in Columbia, SC, Lugoff and Sumter, SC, Carolina Hearing Institute is your hearing and ear clinic within the Columbia, SC, area. If you or your child is dealing with ear pain or other signs of an ear infection call our office today at 424-2208.
How Long Will It Take My Child To Get Better
Your child should start feeling better within a few days after visiting the doctor. If its been several days and your child still seems sick, call your doctor. Your child might need a different antibiotic. Once the infection clears, fluid may still remain in the middle ear but usually disappears within three to six weeks.
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Can Ear Infections Be Prevented
Currently, the best way to prevent ear infections is to reduce the risk factors associated with them. Here are some things you might want to do to lower your childs risk for ear infections.
- Vaccinate your child against the flu. Make sure your child gets the influenza, or flu, vaccine every year.
- It is recommended that you vaccinate your child with the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine . The PCV13 protects against more types of infection-causing bacteria than the previous vaccine, the PCV7. If your child already has begun PCV7 vaccination, consult your physician about how to transition to PCV13. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children under age 2 be vaccinated, starting at 2 months of age. Studies have shown that vaccinated children get far fewer ear infections than children who arent vaccinated. The vaccine is strongly recommended for children in daycare.
- Wash hands frequently. Washing hands prevents the spread of germs and can help keep your child from catching a cold or the flu.
- Avoid exposing your baby to cigarette smoke. Studies have shown that babies who are around smokers have more ear infections.
- Never put your baby down for a nap, or for the night, with a bottle.
- Dont allow sick children to spend time together. As much as possible, limit your childs exposure to other children when your child or your childs playmates are sick.
Can People Prevent Ear Infections And Fluid In The Ear
While there is no way to prevent all ear infections, there are certain things you can do to minimize your risk of getting one. Avoid smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke. Wash your hands frequently to prevent infections from spreading. ;Identify and treat underlying allergy or sinus problems aggressively.
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If your childs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Treatment for an Ear Infection
What Are Symptoms Of Having Fluid In Your Ear
One potential source of ear problems is the middle ear. ;This is the small chamber behind the eardrum where the hearing bones are located. ;If fluid gets trapped in the middle ear, you may experience a variety of symptoms. At mthe inimum, you will feel a clogged sensation or even reduced hearing. ;Pressure and pain may also result. Sometimes your ears will pop and this may be brought on by yawning or opening your jaw widely. This may bring some relief but it is often temporary. ;;Descending in an airplane or diving will typically worsen your symptoms.
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Where Can I Find Additional Information About Ear Infections
The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.;
Use the following keywords to help you search for organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information on ear infections:
How Is An Ear Infection Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will look at your or your childs ear using an instrument called an otoscope. A healthy eardrum will be pinkish gray in color and translucent . If infection is present, the eardrum may be inflamed, swollen or red.
Your healthcare provider may also check the fluid in the middle ear using a pneumatic otoscope, which blows a small amount of air at the eardrum. This should cause the eardrum to move back and forth. The eardrum will not move as easily if there is fluid inside the ear.
Another test, tympanometry, uses air pressure to check for fluid in the middle ear. This test doesnt test hearing. If needed, your healthcare provider will order a hearing test, performed by an audiologist, to determine possible hearing loss if you or your child has had long lasting or frequent ear infections or fluid in the middle ears that is not draining.
Your healthcare provider will also check your throat and nasal passage and listen to your breathing with a stethoscope for signs of upper respiratory infections.
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How Does One Tell If An Ear Infection Is Viral Or Bacterial
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Can You Prevent Ear Infections
Because colds are very infectious and easily spread among children, it can be very hard to prevent your child from getting sick. However, there are risk factors you can control:
- Limit your childs exposure to secondhand smoke
- Make sure your childand youare vaccinated against the flu every year
- Follow good hygiene habits, like frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer
- Teach your child to cough into her elbow, not her hands
- Wear swim ear plugs when swimming
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Signs Of Ear Infection Faqs
Q: How do I know if I have a ruptured eardrum?A: A ruptured eardrum is one of the most common complications of an ear infection. Its symptoms also mirror those of an ear infection, meaning it may be difficult to differentiate between the two. In some cases, however, a ruptured eardrum may result in no symptoms at all. Upon examination, a doctor will be able to identify a ruptured eardrum and advise on appropriate treatment methods. Generally, a ruptured eardrum is considered non-serious and will in most instances heal naturally without the need for medication.
Q: What is the Eustachian tube?A: The Eustachian tube is a narrow canal that connects the middle ear to the throat . Its main function is to ventilate the middle ear and to ensure that the air pressure in both sides of the eardrum remains equalized. When the Eustachian tube becomes blocked as a result of an upper respiratory tract infection , this can create a vacuum in which bacteria can collect and enter the middle ear. This can cause a middle ear infection.
Q: Is earache always a sign of ear infection?A: Although earache is a common symptom of ear infection , earache can also be connected to other conditions such as cold, flu, a buildup of earwax or teething in children. Following an examination, a doctor will be able to identify the root cause of earache and outline treatment options.
Q: What are the signs of an infection around an ear piercing?A: The signs of an ear piercing infection include:
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 condition’s 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 “plug” 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 “deaf” 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.
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Signs Of Otitis Externa
Otitis externa is an inflammation of the external section of the ear canal, which does not reach the eardrum. Most cases are caused by bacteria.
Signs and symptoms can include:
- Itchiness of the ear
If you are concerned that you may have an outer ear infection, try using the Ada app to find out what the problem may be.
What Is An Ear Infection
An ear infection is a viral or bacterial infection of the outer, inner or middle ear. The condition is common, particularly in children, and is generally considered to be non-serious.
An ear infection can cause painful inflammation, as well as a buildup of fluid in the ear, among other symptoms. The condition may in some cases clear up without treatment, however, treatment options â including antibiotics and pain-relief medication â are available.
If you are concerned that you may have an ear infection, try using the Ada app to find out what the problem may be.
Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Ear Infections
Preventing dog ear infections really depends on the underlying cause.;
If your dog has allergies, you may be able to decrease their ear infections by identifying the allergen and avoiding it. To identify your dogs allergy, you will typically work with your veterinarian to do food testing or environmental allergy testing and allergy shots.
When bathing your dog, be careful to not allow water in their ears. If your dog goes for a swim, use an over-the-counter or prescribed ear cleanser to thoroughly clean their ears out afterward. Make sure the ear cleanser is nonirritating and has a drying agent in it.
You can also use the ear cleanser to clean out your dogs ears on a weekly or every-other-week basis, regardless of if they go for a swim or get a bath.
However, there are certain dog breeds that, no matter what you do, they are almost certain to get an ear infection at some point. While any dog breed can get an ear infection, some of the breeds most at risk are:
- Cocker spaniels
Is It A Bacterial Infection Or Virus
Bacterial infections are caused by bacteria, while viral infections are caused by viruses. That’s the easy part. Differentiating between the two requires medical intervention since;both may cause fever and irritability. And the treatments vary significantly. Pediatrician Betty Staples, MD, offers advice on how to tell the difference between these two types of infection.
Every day, parents bring their children to the pediatrician for help in determining whether their sick child has “just a cold” or something more.
Children’s colds result in 22 million missed school days and 20 million parental missed days of work every year. In most cases, these are the “just a cold” variety of virus. However, we also know that other, less common infections can develop in our children, and these need evaluation by the pediatrician to determine if antibiotics are required.
What Should I Do If I Think I Might Have An Eye Infection
If you suspect you might have an eye infection, visit your eye doctor. Dont try to diagnose the condition yourself.
If you wear contacts, should stop using them. Only wear your glasses until you discuss the situation with your doctor.
Your doctor will need to determine what the cause of your eye infection is before treatment can be implemented. This may require a sample from your eye or some other procedure. Your physician may be able to tell just by looking at you, assessing your symptoms, and then formulating the most likely cause of your infection.
Diagnosing An Ear Infection
To find out whether you have an ear infection, your doctor will use an otoscope to look for signs of infection inside your ear Such signs include:
- Bulging eardrum due to fluid and pus behind the eardrum; the fluid buildup is called effusion.
- An eardrum responding less flexibly than normal; this is checked using a pneumatic otoscope.
- Cloudiness of the eardrum Usually the eardrum looks like a clear shower curtain, says Rosenfeld.
- Some loss of hearing; but Rosenfeld says hearing tests are not helpful for diagnosing ear infection.
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Testing For Hidden Infections: Stool Testing
The easiest and best test to evaluate for hidden infections in the colon is a stool test.
Not all stool tests are the same, though.
You want a test that requires three to four stool samples.
This is because parasites, in particular, live in cycles. They are not always found in each and every bowel movement. Also, parasites cling to the walls of the intestines and rarely get shed into the stool. This is another reason why multiple stool samples need to be collected for best test results.
Stool testing is one of the most expensive tests to do, but the investment is worth it. It very often uncovers the underlying reason why you have fatigue.
Hint: If youre doing a stool test, take a laxative formula that will induce watery diarrhea . Collect your stool starting after the fourth watery bowel movement. This will increase your chances of finding parasites. If your test calls for 4 samples, consider doubling it by filling each vial halfway twice, thereby collecting 8 samples total in your 4 vials.
Otitis Media In Adults
Otitis media is another name for a middle ear infection. It means an infection behind your eardrum. This kind of ear infection can happen after any condition that keeps fluid from draining from the middle ear. These conditions include allergies, a cold, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.
Middle ear infections are common in children, but they can also happen in adults. An ear infection in an adult may mean a more serious problem than in a child. So you may need additional tests. If you have an ear infection, you should see your healthcare provider for treatment. If they happen repeatedly, you should see an otolaryngologist or an otologist .
What are the types of middle ear infections?
Infections can affect the middle ear in several ways. They are:
Who is more likely to get a middle ear infection?
You are more likely to get an ear infection if you:
- Smoke or are around someone who smokes
- Have seasonal or year-round allergy symptoms
- Have a cold or other upper respiratory infection
What causes a middle ear infection?
The middle ear connects to the throat by a canal called the eustachian tube. This tube helps even out the pressure between the outer ear and the inner ear. A cold or allergy can irritate the tube or cause the area around it to swell. This can keep fluid from draining from the middle ear. The fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Bacteria and viruses can grow in this fluid. The bacteria and viruses cause the middle ear infection.
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Signs Of Labyrinthitis And Vestibular Neuritis
Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear, or the labyrinth. The condition is typically caused by a virus, and is commonly experienced at the same time as or following viral illnesses, such as a viral sore throat, cold or flu. Vestibular neuritis, another type of inner ear infection, is an infection of the vestibular nerve in the inner ear.
Signs and symptoms of both labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis may include:
Labyrinthitis may also cause some mild hearing loss, as well as some of the signs and symptoms common to other types of ear infection. These include:
- Ringing in the ear
- Discharge from the ear
- Blurred or double vision
The above symptoms may also be experienced in cases of vestibular neuritis, though they are generally a lot more common with labyrinthitis, especially hearing loss and tinnitus.
If you are concerned that you may have an inner ear infection, try using the Ada app to find out what the problem may be.