How Is An Earache Diagnosed
When you bring your child to your pediatric ENT, your doctor first conducts a physical examination. Your pediatric ENT examines your childs ear canals with an otoscope to check the color of the eardrum. Healthy eardrums are light pink or gray and transparent. Inflamed eardrums are red and swollen. Your child could also receive a test known as tympanometry, which uses pressure to test whether the middle ear is working properly or not.
What Causes An Infection
Infections are caused by different biological agents, most of which are living. This includes:
Bacteria, protozoa and fungi need nutrition to survive, can reproduce on their own, can grow and change, and are able to adapt the environment it is within. They are therefore said to be living entities or microorganisms . Unlike the others, viruses are not considered to be living because it is a protein particle that only carries genetic material but does not meet any of the other characteristics of life.
Read more about an infection.
The living microbes either directly damage and consume living tissue in an infection or it produces toxins that injure and even destroy living tissue. These microbes also multiply on or inside the hosts body with the injury worsening over time, especially if there is no medical treatment or if the immune system is not able to counteract it.
Viruses on the other hand inject their genetic material within the host cells. This then forces the cell to produce more of the virus as well as disrupts the cells normal processes and eventually results in cellular death. Sometimes the components of viruses or its byproducts that are produced by the host cell are toxic and damages the cell. It is also possible for some viruses to lie relatively dormant within a cell but transform the cell in a way that it damages other cells or is killed by the immune system.
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.
Don’t Miss: What Are The 3 Main Causes Of Hearing Loss
Symptoms Of Ear Infection In Adults
Symptoms of Outer Ear Infection
- Pain in the affected ear
- Itching in the ear canal
- Swelling or redness of the outer ear
- Excessive discharge from the ear canal
- Feeling of fullness inside the outer ear
- Temporary hearing loss
See your doctor if you are suffering from any of the swimmer’s ear symptoms, even if they are not severe. Visit the emergency room or call your doctor urgently if you have fever and severe pain.
Symptoms of Middle Ear Infection
- Ear pain
- Feeling of pressure and fullness in the ear
- Excessive discharge from the ear
- Temporary hearing loss
See your doctor if you are suffering from the severe ear pain, discharge of fluid or blood, or your symptoms last for more than one day.
What Causes Chronic Middle Ear Infection Or Inflammation
- The Eustachian tube normally prevents the accumulation of fluid by allowing fluid to drain through the tube.
- Chronic otitis media develops over time, and often starts with a chronic middle ear effusion that does not resolve.
- This persistent fluid will often become contaminated with bacteria, and the bacteria found in chronic otitis media are often different from those found in acute otitis media.
- Therefore, anything that disturbs the function of the Eustachian tube can lead to chronic otitis media.
- In some individuals that are ill from other diseases, and there is pus draining from the ear, there is a danger that otitis media may invade the mastoid bone and reach the brain.
- These individuals need to be seen urgently by a health care professional.
- Do not delay treatment by trying home remedies.
Read Also: Phonak Compilot Air Ii Pairing To Hearing Aid
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 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.”
You May Like: Connecting Phonak To Iphone
What Is Middle Ear Infection
The ear is made up of three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts all work together so you can hear and process sounds. The outer and middle ear are separated by the eardrum a very thin piece of skin that vibrates when hit by sound waves.
This page deals with middle ear infection which is the infection / inflammation of the air-filled space behind the eardrum. This space can become blocked and filled with mucus , which can become infected, causing inflammation.
There are two types of middle ear infection. An acute infection starts suddenly and lasts for a short period of time, while a chronic ear infection is one that does not get better or keeps coming back. Chronic ear infection can result in long-term damage to the ear.
Sometimes fluid will remain in the middle ear after an ear infection, causing “glue ear“, a relatively common condition that is often undetected among New Zealand pre-schoolers. Glue ear can adversely affect hearing and may take several weeks to resolve. Children with a suspected ear infection, or who have difficulty hearing, should see a doctor. Children with evidence of damage to the inside of the ear, hearing loss, or language learning delay are likely to be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist .
Which Specialties Of Doctors Treat Middle Ear Infections
- The majority of children and adults are diagnosed and treated by either pediatricians, primary health care doctors, emergency or urgent care medical providers, or other health care professionals.
- Ear, nose, and throat specialists may be consulted for some individuals.
- On rare occasions, a neurologist or neurosurgeon may be needed to treat a severe infection that may extend to other organ systems.
Don’t Miss: Poop In Sign Language
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.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Very rarely, ear infections that don’t go away or severe repeated middle ear infections can lead to complications. So kids with an earache or a sense of fullness in the ear, especially when combined with fever, should be seen by their doctors if they aren’t getting better after a couple of days.
Other things can cause earaches, such as teething, a foreign object in the ear, or hard earwax. Your doctor can find the cause of your child’s discomfort and treat it.
Read Also: Signia Telecare Portal
What Causes Inner Ear Infections
Infections can happen in any part of the ear, including the inner section. When the inner ear is infected, the problem is sometimes known as labyrinthitis.
The infection can be caused by a virus or bacteria, which usually reach the inner ear after affecting another part of your body.
- Viral Infections: Lots of different viruses can affect the inner ear, including the common cold and flu. The infection usually spread to the inner ear from other parts of the body , so you may start to develop symptoms related to your inner ear after noticing cold-like symptoms. Antibiotics cant help with this type of infection.
- Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections are less common, especially in adults, but they can happen. Bacteria are more likely to get into the inner ear if the membranes separating it from the inner ear are broken, which might happen if you have a middle ear infection. If the infection is caused by bacteria then taking antibiotics might help.
In some cases, the problem that we call an inner ear infection isnt actually an infection at all. Labyrinthitis can happen when the inner ear becomes inflamed for other reasons, for example if you have an autoimmune condition that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack the tissue. You might need to get treatment for this underlying condition in order to prevent the inner ear problems from returning.
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.
Also Check: Sorry In Sign Language Baby
Prevention Of Ear Infection In Adults
Prevention of Outer Ear Infection
- Do not swim in contaminated water and always use ear plugs while swimming.
- Make sure your ears are dry and clean. Dry your outer ear only, gently wipe it with a soft fabric. Turn your head to the side and drain the water from your ear canal.
- Wash your hands every time you touch your ears.
- Avoid ear irritation. Place cotton balls into your ears when using hair dryer or hair spray.
- Avoid scratching your ears with nails, cotton swabs, paper clips or hairpins.
Prevention of Middle Ear Infection
- Quit smoking and secondhand smoking.
- Treat colds, allergies or sinusitis. Take a decongestant if you have a cold or before an air travel.
- Do not place any foreign objects in your ears.
- Wash your hands regularly, do not go out when you are sick and avoid getting germs from others.
Signs Of An Ear Infection
Posted by Dr. Chris
Ear infections are common, especially in children. It can affect the outer ear , middle ear or inner ear . The signs and symptoms of an ear infection can vary somewhat depending on which part of the ear is infected. Sometimes complications may arise which may further contribute to the overall symptoms.
Recommended Reading: Dehydration And Tinnitus
Ear Infection: Signs Symptoms And Treatment
Ear infections are among the most painful, irritating conditions a person can have whether young or old. Although ear infections are quite common , this doesnt mean they are any easier to deal with. In most cases, ear infections occur within the middle ear or the space behind the eardrum where the vibrating bones are located. Medically speaking, this specific type of ear infection is referred to as otitis media and is caused by either a bacteria or virus. There are other types of infections that can occur within the ear canal, but these are far less common. The most common of these inner ear canal infections is swimmers ear, which gets its name because it most commonly occurs after swimming.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Middle
Common symptoms of a middle-ear infection in adults are:
Pain in 1 or both ears
Drainage from the ear
You may also have a fever. Rarely, your balance can be affected.
These symptoms may be the same as for other conditions. Its important totalk with your health care provider if you think you have a middle-earinfection. If you have a high fever, severe pain behind your ear, orparalysis in your face, see your provider as soon as you can.
You May Like: How To Pair Compilot With Hearing Aids
Do Allergies Cause Ear Infections
Allergies can cause inflammation and contribute to ear infections by interfering with the Eustachian tube’s ability to let air pass into the middle ear. However, in children under two years of age, allergies are usually not the main cause of ear infections. Allergy testing can identify the allergen triggers for your child. Medications or allergy shots usually can bring relief and also lessen the likelihood of ear infections.
What Is The Treatment For Ear Infection In Babies
Mild cases of Ear infections will go away on its own, keep the surroundings warm, dry and clean. Babies fed on breast milk have higher immunity. Parents can wait for a day before rushing to the Doctor unless the child is crying or is very uncomfortable. In certain cases, the discomfort can be due to blockage caused by common cold and not infection.
Parents should refer to the Doctor in case they are not sure. Paediatric Doctors are very cautious and do not prescribe antibiotics unless the infection has advanced. If the cause of Ear infection is viral, antibiotics will not work. Antibiotic resistance is considered as a big threat to Global Health. Parents should avoid over the counter eardrops or any drug unless prescribed by the Doctor.
A short must watch Video to summarise the Symptoms and Precautions of Ear Infection in babies.
Also Check: Sign Language For Im Sorry
How To Treat An Ear Infection At Home
Ear infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or rarely yeast. There are three areas in the ear where ear infections can occur in adults and children.
Which parts of the ear can become infected?
Talk To A Vet If Your Dog Has An Ear Infection
Did you find out everything you needed to know about signs of ear infections in dogs? If you suspect your dog might have an ear infection, it is important to take him to the vet right away. Ear infections usually dont clear up without some form of medication, so you should work with your vet to ensure your dog is receiving the right treatment plan to help him.
Also Check: Sign Language For Poop