How Is It Diagnosed
A doctor will usually diagnose a double ear infection by checking a persons medical history and asking about their symptoms.
The doctor will examine both ears using a device called an otoscope. It comprises a light and a magnifying lens. Doctors typically look for redness, swelling, and signs of fluid behind the eardrum, which indicates infection.
A doctor may also use another device, called a pneumatic otoscope, to test how much the eardrum moves in response to pressure. If the eardrum does not respond to this pressure, it suggests fluid buildup behind the ear.
Many single ear infections clear up on their own. But double infections are more likely to require treatments such as:
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.
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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Ear Drops For Outer Ear Pain And Swelling
Outer ear infection can get better without ear drops, but this may take weeks. Ear drops can help speed up the healing process. Ear drops usually need to be used several times a day for about a week.
For the treatment of mild discomfort of your outer ear, usually caused by water in the ear, you can get ear drops from your pharmacy, such as Vosol®. Other ear drops need to be prescribed by a doctor, such as:
- eardrops that contain antibiotics to treat infection, for example, Soframycin®
- antibiotic eardrops combined with a steroid to reduce the inflammation associated with the ear infection, for example, Ciproxin HC®, Sofradex®, Locacorten-Vioform®and Kenacomb®.
Read more about eardrops.
Return to the doctor or nurse if things don’t settle. If problems with outer ear infection or inflammation are ongoing, your doctor may refer you to an audiologist or an ear specialist for further assessment and treatment.
About External Ear Infection Or Otitis Externa
If your child has an external ear infection, the lining of her ear canal on the outer side of her eardrum is infected.
Children who swim a lot often get external ear infections. This is because water stays in their ears after swimming and causes irritation.
External ear infections might also happen if your childs ear canal is damaged by using cotton buds or scratching. A secondary bacterial or fungal infection often develops when this happens.
Children who have skin problems like eczema or dermatitis are more likely to get external ear infections.
The medical term for external ear infection is otitis externa. You might also hear it called swimmers ear.
The ear has three main parts the outer ear , the middle ear , and the inner ear .
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How Can I Prevent Otitis Externa
There are several things that will help prevent otitis externa from occurring in the first place, from returning after treatment, or from becoming chronic. It’s particularly important to try to do these if you know you are prone to the condition:
Don’t clean your ear canal with cotton buds. You may damage and irritate the inflamed skin and also push wax further into the ear. Wax is designed to come out by itself. Just clean the outside of the ear with a cloth when any discharge appears. Don’t scratch or poke the ear canal with anything, as you may scratch the delicate lining.
Keep your ears dry. If water gets in there, tip it out as soon as possible. You can also help dry your ears with the low heat setting of a hairdryer. When you swim try wearing a tightly fitting cap that covers the ears. Some swimmers use silicone rubber earplugs but you should only use them if they do not irritate the skin in your ear canal. When you come out of the pool do your best to tip the water out of each ear. Jumping up and down before you do so may help free it.
Try not to let soap or shampoo get into your ear canal. If you are prone to otitis externa you can do this when you have a shower, by placing a piece of cotton wool coated in soft white paraffin into the outer ear.
What Is The Treatment For Otitis Externa
Most people with otitis externa are given treatment without having any tests, as the diagnosis is usually clear from examination of the ear. If you recognise the condition yourself you could try some ear drops for otitis externa. These are available without prescription, such as those containing 2% acetic acid.
Ear drops are usually enough to cure a bout of short-lasting otitis externa. However, other treatments are sometimes added. This is more likely to be necessary if you notice any of the following:
- Your ears are particularly painful or swollen.
- Your ears are completely blocked .
- Your otitis externa keeps coming back or has become persistent .
It is also very important that you take steps to help things settle down, as if the conditions that caused the otitis externa in the first place are unchanged, it may well come back.
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Home Remedies For Ear Infections
Ear infections are caused by bacteria or viruses in the middle ear. Ear infections occur more often in children than adults. Some causes and contributing factors that lead to ear infections are wax buildup, upper respiratory infections, food allergies, environmental allergies, fetal alcohol syndrome, genetics, nutritional deficiencies and internal injuries. Some common signs that someone is suffering from an ear infection are pain in the ear, tugging at the ear, difficulty sleeping, headache, poor response to sounds, high fever, fluid draining from the ear, vomiting, diarrhea and so on.
The ear is made up of three parts: outer, middle and inner.
An ear infection can occur in any of the three parts. Inner ear infections are the most serious. It is important to treat an ear infection to prevent complications, including damaging or rupturing the ear drum. Untreated ear infections can also lead to chronic recurrence and can even cause deafness! It is important to consult a doctor, but for immediate relief you can try some natural treatments. There are many time-honored, simple and easy home remedies that can help to get rid of the pain and other symptoms of an ear infection.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for an ear infection.
Treatments For Outer Ear Infection
Outer ear infections may heal on their own without treatment. Antibiotic eardrops are the most common treatment for an outer ear infection that hasnt healed on its own. They can be prescribed by your doctor.
Doctors may also prescribe antibiotic drops mixed with steroids to reduce swelling in the ear canal. The ear drops are typically used several times a day for 7 to 10 days.
If a fungus is the cause of the outer ear infection, your doctor will prescribe antifungal ear drops. This type of infection is more common in people with diabetes or a depleted immune system.
To reduce symptoms, its important to keep water out of the ears while the infection is healing.
Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to reduce pain. In extreme cases, prescription pain medication may be prescribed.
The most important part of home treatment for outer ear infections is prevention. Keeping the ear dry as much as possible decreases the risk of infection.
Other tips to keep in mind include:
- using a cotton ball or soft ear plugs to prevent water from entering the ear while showering or bathing
- using a swim cap
- avoiding scratching the inner ear, even with cotton swabs
- avoiding removing ear wax on your own
- using an eardrop mixture of rubbing alcohol and/or vinegar after swimming to help dry up excess water
- toweling the head and ears dry after swimming
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Causes Of Outer Ear Infection
Outer ear infections are usually caused by bacteria or fungi. But anything that irritates the skin of your ear canal or causes an allergic reaction can also cause inflammation.
Certain things may make you more likely to get an outer ear infection.
- Damage to your ear canal from a cotton bud, your fingernail or any other object.
- Using hearing aids or earplugs these can damage or irritate your ear canal or introduce bacteria.
- Swimming, especially in polluted water because this may introduce bacteria into your ear.
- Living in a hot, humid climate ear infection is often known as tropical ear.
- Having allergies or being sensitive to products like hairsprays and hair dyes these can irritate your ear canal.
- A build-up of earwax in your ear canal or accidentally pushing wax into your ear when cleaning it. This can trap water in your ear, making it damper and more likely to get infected.
- Having too little earwax . Earwax protects the inside of your ears from infections.
- Having a narrow ear canal, which means that water can become trapped and bacteria are more likely to grow.
- Having a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis broken skin is more likely to become inflamed.
- Having a condition that affects your immune system for example, HIV/AIDS.
How Do I Make Sure The Treatment Works
Let the discharge escape: try not to leave balls of cotton wool in the ear canal. If the discharge is heavy, you may need to place some cotton wool lightly in the outer part of the canal to mop it up. If you do this, replace it frequently with a fresh piece.
Use the ear drops correctly: sometimes otitis externa does not clear because ear drops are not used correctly. You have to put them in as often as prescribed to be fully effective. If the drops come out of the ear quickly, they may not work so well. When using drops:
- Lie with the affected ear upwards.
- Put several drops in the ear and remain lying in this position for 1-2 minutes.
- Press the cartilage at the front of the ear canal a few times to push the drops deep inside the ear canal.
Keep your ears dry : this will help the current attack to settle down and help to prevent future attacks . It is best to avoid swimming and getting water in the ears whilst you have otitis externa. Getting more water in the ears will tend to make things worse.
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Externa Recurrent Otitis Externa And Chronic Otitis Externa
The only difference between these three ‘types’ of otitis externa is the length of time for which you have had the condition.
Acute otitis externa – this term means you have had the condition for less than three months. Usually, in fact, you will only have it for a week or so.
Recurrent otitis externa – this term means the condition keeps coming back. You have episodes that get better but then you develop the same symptoms again.
Chronic otitis externa – this term means the condition has lasted for more than three months. Sometimes it can last for years. This is often because, even though you have had treatment, the underlying reasons for it are still there.
What Is An Ear Infection
There are different types of ear infections. Middle ear infection is an infection in the middle ear.
Another condition that affects the middle ear is called otitis media with effusion. It occurs when fluid builds up in the middle ear without being infected and without causing fever, ear pain, or pus build-up in the middle ear.
When the outer ear canal is infected, the condition is called swimmers ear, which is different from a middle ear infection. For more information, visit Swimmers Ear .
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How To Use Ear Drops
Ear drops are not always easy to administer. Follow these steps when using them:
- Lie down on your side with the infected ear facing up.
- Drip your ear drop along the ear canal side .
- Let it slide into the ear canal, and remain still and relaxed for a few minutes.
- Sit up slowly. Avoid sticking anything in your ear to soak up the excess ear drop.
- Let your ear air dry.
Your doctor may decide oral antibiotic treatment is best if:
- The infection has already spread beyond your ear canal
- You have uncontrolled diabetes
- Youve had radiotherapy to your ear
- Its not possible to administer topical antibiotic to the area
You may also treat the ear pain with an oral painkiller such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or Tylenol .
Examples of common NSAIDs include:
Cleaning Your Ear Canal
If earwax or loose material is blocking your ear canal, it can stop ear drops from working properly.
If you think you have too much earwax, you shouldnt try to remove it yourself. Using cotton buds or other objects to try to clean earwax out of your ears can push it further inside and block your ear. You might also damage the skin inside your ear canal, which can lead to an ear infection.
Instead, your GP may suggest one of the following methods to clean your ear canal before you use ear drops. Sometimes they may need to refer you to a specialist in ear, nose and throat conditions for these procedures.
- Syringing and irrigation. This gently washes out any earwax and debris blocking your ear canal.
- Dry swabbing. This means using dry cotton swabs to gently remove any loose material from your ear canal.
- Microsuction. This involves using a device to gently suction out wax and any other material from your ear. Your doctor will do this procedure using a microscope to view your ear.
If your ear canal is very swollen, your doctor may suggest inserting an ear wick into your ear. This can only be done by a specialist. An ear wick is a small sponge pad. Once its in your ear, it can be soaked with an antibiotic solution. This allows drops to fall deep into your ear. The wick is usually left in place for at least a couple of days. Generally, your doctor or nurse will remove it but it may fall out on its own.
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Can An Ear Infection Cause Tinnitus
Fans of the NBC sitcom The Office may remember one of Jim and Pams famous pranks, where they softly hummed the same note until their co-worker Dwight decided he needed to make an appointment with an ear doctor. They called it pretendinnitus, based off of a very real ear problem: Tinnitus. In this blog post, we look at this annoying ear problem and its connection to ear infections.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus involves a perception of noise in the ears. Most people describe what they hear as a ringing, but it can also manifest as hissing, humming, buzzing, or clicking. Tinnitus is a relatively common issue, affecting around 1 in 5 people.
The noise can be steady or intermittent, and it can also vary in intensity, ranging from slightly annoying to overwhelming, making it difficult to hear external sounds or concentrate. Most often Tinnitus is subjective, meaning only the person suffering from it can perceive the sound. Subjective Tinnitus is sometimes caused by problems with the auditory nerves or the interpretation of nerve signals in the brain. More commonly it is caused by outer, middle, or inner ear problems. Some people suffer from a stronger objective Tinnitus, however, where the sound is intense enough for a doctor to hear during examination. Objective Tinnitus can be caused by muscle contractions, blood vessel issues, or a bone condition in the middle ear.
Causes and severity of Tinnitus
- ear wax buildup
Treatment Options For Ear Infections And Pain
For relief of ear pain associated with swimmer’s ear or a middle ear infection,it’s OK to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or Tylenol® . A warm compress placed over theaffected ear can also relieve the pain from swimmer’s ear. You should consult with an expert to treat the cause of the infection.
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What Type Of Ear Infection Is It
There are two common types of ear infections:
- Otitis media: This ear infection affects the middle ear . Middle ear infections are common in kids and tend to cause trouble hearing, fevers, and pain without much outward signs such as ear drainage or swelling.
- Otitis externa: This infection affects the ear canal, and is commonly known as swimmers ear because water exposure is a risk factor for it. Swimmers ear is painful, too, and tends to have more visible signs such as a swollen ear canal or pus drainage.
There are several home remedies for earaches, says Dr. Nguyen-Huynh. Try these for the first two or three days if symptoms are mild.