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
Earaches In Adults: What You Need To Know
Been a while since you woke up with a sharp, stabbing earache? Such a distant memory you don’t even know where to find a heating pad like the one your mom used to carefully apply to the side of your face?
Consider yourself lucky but not necessarily off the hook. Although ear infections are more common among children, some 20% occur in adults. Bad news for those of us who thought we had outgrown that phase for good. But the good news is, for the most part, there are easy ways to fix the problem, and even easier ways to avoid the common mistakes that can land even the most responsible adults in the reclining chair of an ear, nose and throat doctor .
Luckily, Dr. Brian Wang, an ENT doctor at Houston Methodist, is here to answer all of our burning questions about the types of ear problems that most frequently occur in adults.
What Is The Difference In Treatments
If you have fluid in the ear, treatment often includes pain relievers or even a round of antibiotics. Certain nasal sprays can also be helpful since the eustachian tubes actually drain into the back of the nose. If the fluid continues despite medical treatment, you may need tubes placed in your ears and at times your adenoids may need to be removed if they are contributing to the problem.
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Treating Outer Ear Infections
The outer ear should be carefully cleaned. That should be followed by the application of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory medications on your ear.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if your doctor determines that the infection is bacterial.
If you have a viral infection, you may simply need to tend to the irritation on your ear and wait for the infection to resolve itself. Depending on the type of virus involved, more specialized treatment may be necessary.
What Is The Most Frequent Type Of Ear Infection In Adults
Dr. Wang: An outer ear infection, or otitis externa, is the type we most frequently encounter in adults. These can strike anyone at any age, with or without a history of ear infections. Outer ear infections are also known as swimmer’s ear, because they are typically caused by the introduction of moisture from outside the body. The ear canal is a warm, moist area of the body, the perfect breeding ground for bacterial or fungal growth and an easy entry point for moisture to enter. Adults who are more predisposed to getting otitis externa include those with eczema of the ear canal and those who frequently insert cotton swabs into their ear canal.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Vertigo
Both vertigo and dizziness are balance problems, and they’re sometimes referred to interchangeably. But dizziness is more of a feeling of being off-balance, whereas vertigo gives you the sensation that either you’re spinning or everything around you is spinning. Because vertigo is just a symptom itself, you may get it with some other related symptoms, such as:
How To Tell If You Have An Inner Ear Infection
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Can You Get An Outer Ear Infection From Sweating A Lot When You Work Out
Dr. Wang: It’s not common, but yes. It’s called swimmer’s ear because that is what usually causes it. But moisture can also be introduced into the ear from showering, taking a bath, rain or sweat dripping into your ear even high humidity. Outer ear infections are mostly caused by bacteria, but they can also be caused by fungus, such as the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.
Diy Dog Cleaners That May Not Work For An Infection
DIY dog cleaners and home remedies may not work for an infection for a few reasons.
For one, bacterial infections can be pretty hard to get rid of sometimes an antibiotic will be the only thing that will do the trick.
Ear infections can also be the result of a bigger problem with youre the dog immune system, so a topical DIY may help with the symptoms, but not the underlying cause.
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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.
Healing Time In Different Sections Of The Ear
The infections persist in the middle, the outer and inner part of the ear. Every part has its unique features. As a result healing time also depends on the section of the ear.
- Outer Causes of outer ear infection are different from a middle ear infection. The most common type of infection in the outer ear is bacterial infections. But fungal and viral infections can occur as well. It can last for a week or longer. Its symptoms are severe pain in the ear, purulent discharge, fever, etc.
- Middle The infection shouldnt last more than one or two days. After an ear infection clears up, fluid may remain in the middle ear and cause some of the more mild symptoms and can persist for several weeks to months. This condition is diagnosed as otitis media with effusion. Its symptoms are ear pain, feeling like your ear is clogged, Nausea, Reduced Hearing.
- Inner The infection exists for a long time in this section. Most commonly, viral is the reason for the inner ear infection. These viruses can be most of the flu and cold. Its symptoms are pain, fever, and reduced hearing. Nausea and tinnitus can also occur in an inner ear infection.
The Eustachian tube drains fluid and air from the middle ear. Blockage in the Eustachian tube may cause fluid to build up. This causes pain since it applies pressure on the eardrum. The fluid is also a fertile ground for bacteria growth and this leads to an ear infection.
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When Should I Go To The Doctor For An Ear Infection
While many ear infections can be treated at home, some need medical attention. Youll want to talk to a doctor or nurse if:
- Your baby has a fever, especially if they are younger than 3 months old, or if your older babys temperature is above 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The ear infection symptoms arent getting better after a couple of days.
- Theres fluid draining from the ear.
- You or your child is experiencing changes or loss of hearing.
- The infection has lasted for more than six weeks.
- You or your child is experiencing frequent or recurrent ear infections.
What Should I Do About An Ear Infection
If its only been a couple of days and the only symptom has been ear pain, you dont need to head to the doctor right away. Because many ear infections go away on their own, its likely your doctor will want to wait and see how the symptoms improve before providing prescription medicines.
In the meantime, focus on getting lots of rest. Sleeping strengthens the immune system and helps the body fight off infections and other sickness.
If the ear infection is causing pain or discomfort, there are treatments for ear infections you can try at home. One of the simplest is using a warm compress to dull the pain. Just soak a washcloth in warm water, wring out the excess water and then hold it against the infected ear for up to 20 minutes. If it helps, reapply the compress throughout the day.
If your child is over 3 months old, an over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen can also help with the pain just make sure youre using an age-appropriate dose. If you have questions, contact your doctor or nurse line.
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Infections Inside The Ear
Antibiotics are not usually offered because infections inside the ear often clear up on their own and antibiotics make little difference to symptoms, including pain.
Antibiotics might be prescribed if:
- an ear infection does not start to get better after 3 days
- you or your child has any fluid coming out of the ear
- you or your child has an illness that means there’s a risk of complications, such as cystic fibrosis
They may also be prescribed if your child is less than 2 years old and has an infection in both ears.
Ear Infection Home Treatments And Remedies
Ear infections can occur in the outer ear , middle ear , and inner ear . Natural and home remedies to treat pain include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- Applying a warm compress on the infected ear.
- Applying naturopathic ear drops with ginger, tea tree, or olive oil may help with pain and inflammation.
Talk with your doctor or pediatrician before using any herbal or naturopathic medicine for ear infections.
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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
Ear infections are extremely common health problems. However, they can also lead to numerous health conditions, including brain abscess or meningitis.
Therefore, its really important to make sure you know the signs of a chronic ear infection. You should never simply ignore any of the symptoms of ear infection.
If they are left untreated, your condition could worsen. Check out our guide to the top signs to watch out for below.
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 Other Types Of Ear Infections Affect Adults
Dr. Wang: A middle ear infection, or otitis media, is most frequently associated with children, but adults get them as well. This type of ear infection happens when viruses or bacteria get into the middle ear the space behind the eardrum. The middle ear fills with pus or infected fluid. The pus pushes on the eardrum, which can be very painful. Middle ear infections are caused by swelling in one or both of the Eustachian tubes. The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the throat and act as release valves to equalize pressure within the middle ear. When that process is interfered with, that’s when infections can develop.
So We Should Not Insert Cotton Swabs Into Our Ears To Try To Clean Them Or Remove Earwax Right
Dr. Wang: Correct. Use of Q-Tips can cause not only outer ear infections, but also trauma of the ear canal or eardrum, which can affect hearing and cause other types of infection and ear pain. Also, part of the swab can break off, leaving a foreign body in your ear that needs to be removed. It’s a common reason for ER visits, actually. If you feel you have a buildup of ear wax, I recommend applying a tissue or soft thin cloth to your finger and wiping gently around the entrance to the ear. There are also over-the-counter ear wax removal kits from Debrox® that are safe to use, when used as directed.
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Signs You Have An Ear Infection
Ear pain can make you feel miserable, but its not always easy to tell if your symptoms are actually caused by an infection. These signs and symptoms typically occur when you have an ear infection.
What are common ear infection signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of ear infections include:
- Ear Pain: Pain may be continuous or may come and go.
- Fever: The infection can cause a fever of 101 or 102F, but not everyone who gets an ear infection doesnt develop a fever.
- Difficulty Hearing: A build up of mucus in the inner ear can make it harder to hear clearly.
- Drainage: If the eardrum bursts or perforates, mucus will begin to drain from the ears.
Ear infections are more common in children than adults. The eustachian tubes, the passageways that connect the ears to the throat, are smaller and more horizontal in children, making it easier for bacteria and viruses to reach the ears. Its not always easy to tell if your baby or young child has an ear infection, although signs of infection tend to start after a cold. In addition to the signs mentioned above, these signs can indicate that there is an infection:
- Pulling on ears
- Frequent waking during the night
- Reluctance to lie flat
- Loss of appetite due to pain when chewing or swallowing
How are ear infections treated?
Do you think you or your child may have an ear infection? Your ear, nose and throat doctor can offer recommendations and treatments to help you feel better.
When Should I Return To My Healthcare Provider For A Follow
Your healthcare provider will let you know when you need to return for a follow-up visit. At that visit, you or your childs eardrum will be examined to be certain that the infection is going away. Your healthcare provider may also want to test you or your child’s hearing.
Follow-up exams are very important, especially if the infection has caused a hole in the eardrum.
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When Is An Ear Infection Considered To Be Chronic
If an ear infection lasts for more than three months, its considered chronic. If chronic ear infections arent treated, it can lead to hearing loss and other serious problems. In children, chronic ear infections can affect their ability to achieve developmental milestones, like walking and talking.
Is a chronic ear infection curable?
If your child has an ear infection for a few months and its affecting their ability to hear, your doctor may recommend a minor surgery to put in ear tubes for chronic ear infections.
During ear tube surgery, an ear, nose and throat doctor inserts small plastic or metal tubes into the eardrum. These tubes help drain the built-up fluid that can cause ear infections. Ear tubes usually fall out on their own within about a year.
How To Know If I Have An Ear Infection 10 Ear Infection Symptoms
Having an earache is not a common symptom, but almost all of us have experienced this type of problem before, especially during childhood. Anyone experiencing an acute ear infection will be able to tell how symptoms become unbearable, and they may even compare to those arising from a decayed tooth. However, there are different types of ear infections, and each one of them has a different set of signs and symptoms.
Thats why in this article we have included the most common signs and symptoms associated with ear infections, and after reading carefully you will realize how different it is to have an infection in your outer ear, middle ear and inner ear, and how could you tell which one is affecting you.
You may have an ear infection and require medical assistance if you start having one or more of these symptoms:
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What Diagnosis For Ear Infection Is Available
Your doctor will use an instrument called an otoscope to examine your inner ear. The instrument comes with a magnifying lens and light. The instrument helps determine if there is any redness or pus-like fluid in your ear. It also helps confirm if there is a perforation in the eardrum.
In some cases, your doctor may choose to take a sample of the fluid for further testing. The tests help determine if there are any antibiotic resistant bacteria in the ear. Your healthcare provider may also ask a CT scan to see if the infection has spread to other parts of your head as well. A hearing test may also help determine a better treatment option, especially when you have chronic ear infections.