When Cold Symptoms Include An Earache
With a cold, you can get ear pain because the eardrum gets inflamed by the viral infection, says Richard Rosenfeld, MD, MPH, a professor and the chairman of otolaryngology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The dull, sharp, or burning earache will go away with the cold. Since colds are caused by viruses, the best you can do is treat the cold symptoms and wait out the infection. Tylenol or Advil or Motrin can help ease your earache.
However, in some people, particularly in children under age 8 and adults who smoke, a second infection occurs inside the ear when bacteria cause pus and fluid to fill up in the space behind the eardrum. In many ways an ear infection may be similar to the earache symptoms of a cold, except the pain is likely to be sharper and come on more suddenly.
How To Tell If You Have An Inner Ear Infection
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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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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.
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How To Tell If You Have An Ear Infection
If youre experiencing ear pain you may be wondering if its an ear infection and what you need to do about it. This article will help you understand the different types of ear infection you may have, their causes, and your treatment options.
Before we dive in, if your ear pain has lasted more than two days you should book an appointment with a doctor, you may have a bacterial infection and need antibiotic treatment before it gets wrose.
Read on to learn more about how to tell if you have an ear infection.
What Is A Middle Ear Infection
Middle ear infections are one of the most common childhood problems. Let’s start by talking about infections. An infection happens when germs like bacteria and viruses get inside the body and cause trouble. Germs can get into your ears. The ear is divided into three parts: outer, middle, and inner. When the germs bother your outer ear, it’s called swimmer’s ear.
The middle ear is a small pocket of air behind the eardrum. You have a middle ear infection when germs get into the middle ear and the area fills up with fluid , which contains germ-fighting cells. When the pus builds up, your ear starts to feel like a balloon that is ready to pop, which can really hurt.
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Symptoms Of Ear Infections
Stabbing pain in ear canals can be a symptom of an ear infection, but its not the only symptom. Weve talked about some of the others in the paragraphs above, but there are a few others. We encourage you to do more research on your own.
If you want more information and advice on various health topics please visit our site. Ear infections arent the only kind out there. Its important to know about upper respiratory infections as well.
Fluid Or Pus Draining From Your Child’s Ear:
While not very common, this is a definite sign of infection, so call the doctor right away. Yellow, white, or green drainage from the ear can signal a perforated eardrum, a condition that can develop if the fluid in the middle ear puts so much pressure on the eardrum that it bursts.
Although a burst eardrum may sound scary and can be very painful for your child, the hole is not serious and will usually heal by itself. And the good news is that your child may start to feel better as fluid drains and pressure decreases.
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Treating Middle Ear Infections
You may be prescribed antibiotics. Some antibiotics may be taken orally. Others can be applied directly to the site of the infection with ear drops. Medications for pain, such as over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used to manage your symptoms.
Another helpful technique is called autoinsufflation. Its meant to help clear your eustachian tubes. You do this by squeezing your nose, closing your mouth, and very gently exhaling. This can send air through the eustachian tubes to help drain them.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Inner Ear Infection
Ear infections can happen anywhere in your outer, middle or inner ear. The symptoms can be very different depending on where the problem is located. If the infection is in your inner ear then it can have a particularly dramatic effect on your senses of balance and hearing. Read on to learn more about inner ear infections and how they can affect you.
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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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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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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.
What Is An Inner Ear Infection
First, its important to understand what makes up the inner ear.
The inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance. It consists of semicircular canals, cochlea, and vestibules.
Collectively, these parts are known as the inner ear. It can become infected by bacteria or viruses. Or, it can seem infected if theres inflammation happening.
Ear infections are more common in children and for them, they tend to go away quickly and on their own. The same isnt always true for adults.
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Prevention Of Eye Infections
As is the case with many types of infections, prevention is the best form of cure. If you notice that someone has red swollen eyes, you can avoid catching whatever they have by minimizing contact with the person and using good hygiene practices.
Good hygiene goes a long way. If you wear contacts, you should always wash your hands before touching them. Do not share items that will touch your eyeball with other people. Sleeping with contact lenses in increases the risk for eye inflections, even if they are approved for overnight wear.
Always keep the towels in your bathroom clean, and change your bedding weekly. This reduces the likelihood of bacteria that can lead to eye infections.
Can An Ear Infection Be Prevented Or Avoided
Although an ear infection is not contagious, the bacteria or virus that caused it is often contagious. Its important to:
- Vaccinate your child with a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against several types of pneumococcal bacteria. This type of bacteria is the most common cause of ear infections. Get your childs vaccinations on time.
- Practice routine hand washing and avoid sharing food and drinks, especially if your child is exposed to large groups of kids in day care or school settings.
- Avoid second-hand smoke.
- Breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding for at least 1 year. Place your baby at an angle while feeding.
Common allergy and cold medicines do not protect against ear infections.
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How To Prevent Ear Infections
What can kids do to prevent ear infections? You can avoid places where people are smoking, for one. Cigarette smoke can keep your eustachian tubes from working properly.
You also can try not to catch colds. These steps can help:
- Stay away from people who have colds, if possible.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Try not to touch your nose and eyes.
Good luck staying clear of colds and keeping those pesky germs out of your ears!
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.
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How Have The Treatments Of Ear Infections Improved Over Time
Technology and advancements have improved the treatment of ear infections. Today, many over-the-counter medications are available to help alleviate pain. Fast pain relief is often the focus of treatment, especially with children. There are also advanced minimally invasive procedures such as eustachian tube dilation that can prevent chronic ear infections from occurring to relieve pain and other issues.
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.
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What Causes A Middle
The middle ear connects to the throat by a canal called the eustachiantube. This tube helps even out the pressure between the outer ear and theinner ear. A cold or allergy can irritate the tube or cause the area aroundit to swell. This can keep fluid from draining from the middle ear. Thefluid builds up behind the eardrum. Bacteria and viruses can grow in thisfluid. The bacteria and viruses cause the middle-ear infection.
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What To Do For An Ear Infection In Adults
The following tips can help to reduce your risk of having an outer ear infection.
- Try to keep the inside of your ears dry by keeping shampoo and water out of your ears when youre having a shower or a bath. Dry your ears with a dry towel or hair dryer afterwards.
- Dont use cotton buds or other objects to clean your ear canal.
- Use ear plugs and/or a tight-fitting swimming cap when you go swimming, to prevent water getting in your ears. Dont swim in polluted water.
- Consider using acidic drops before and after swimming if youre prone to outer ear infections. You can buy these from a pharmacy.
- If you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, make sure you keep it under control as much as possible.
- If you have a build-up of earwax, see a doctor or nurse to check if you need to get it removed. Dont try to do it yourself.
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Who Is Most Likely To Get An Ear Infection
Middle ear infection is the most common childhood illness . Ear infections occur most often in children who are between age 3 months and 3 years, and are common until age 8. Some 25% of all children will have repeated ear infections.
Adults can get ear infections too, but they dont happen nearly as often as they do in children.
Risk factors for ear infections include:
- Age: Infants and young children are at greater risk for ear infections.
- Family history: The tendency to get ear infections can run in the family.
- Colds: Having colds often increases the chances of getting an ear infection.
- Allergies: Allergies cause inflammation of the nasal passages and upper respiratory tract, which can enlarge the adenoids. Enlarged adenoids can block the eustachian tube, preventing ear fluids from draining. This leads to fluid buildup in the middle ear, causing pressure, pain and possible infection.
- Chronic illnesses: People with chronic illnesses are more likely to develop ear infections, especially patients with immune deficiency and chronic respiratory disease, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma.
- Ethnicity: Native Americans and Hispanic children have more ear infections than other ethnic groups.
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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