Posts for tag: Ear Infection
Ear infections can be quite the nuisance, particularly if it’s something that your little one deals with often. While anyone can develop ear infections, babies and young children are at an increased risk for ear infections. Since children’s Eustachian tubes (a structure that connects the middle ear with the pharynx, the cavity that lies behind the nose and mouth) aren’t fully developed it makes it easier for factors such as a common cold to lead to blocked Eustachian tubes and ear infections.
If there is a family history of ear infections, if your child is exposed to secondhand smoke or if your child develops colds and flus regularly then they may be at an increased risk for an ear infection. The most common types of ear infections are a middle ear infection, swimmer’s ear (which affects the outer ear canal), and labyrinthitis (causes inflammation of the inner ear or nerves of the inner ear).
Of course, babies and toddlers won’t be able to tell you that they are experiencing ear pain; however, there are other signs to look out for, including:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Drainage coming from the ear
- Increased irritability or crying more often
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Increased fussiness or clinginess
- Lack of energy
If your child is displaying any of these symptoms it’s a good idea to take them in to see their pediatrician. Of course, if your child is often dealing with recurring or severe ear infections, visiting an otolaryngologist might be the best medical professional to help you figure out what’s causing these frequent infections and how to put a stop to them.
Of course, adults may also face ear infections. You may wake up in the middle of the night with an ear that is throbbing and painful. If this is the case, turning to an ENT doctor can help alleviate your symptoms. Depending on the type and severity of you or your little one’s ear infection, an ENT specialist will tell you whether or not antibiotics will be necessary for fighting the infection.
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and applying a warm compress to the ear can also help you manage your discomfort until the ear infection goes away. Leaving an ear infection untreated is never a good idea, as it can lead to complications such as hearing loss. This is why it’s important that you or your child receive the proper medical attention necessary if you suspect an ear infection.
While they tend to be most common in young children, ear infections can affect people of all ages. An ear infection can result from a number of causes, and treatment will depend on the severity, location, symptoms and source of the infection. Many ear infections respond to self care and clear up on their own, while others may require treatment and prescription medication from an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT).
Treating an Ear Infection
The ear is made up of three parts - the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. Infections usually develop in the middle ear and can be caused by either a virus, fungus or bacteria. An ENT will check for fluid buildup and determine whether it is a viral or bacterial infection, which helps to determine what the treatment will be. Viral middle ear infections generally clear up on their own over time, and symptoms can be managed with pain relievers like Advil. If the infection is caused by bacteria, an ENT may prescribe antibiotics to help clear up the infection and prevent the bacteria from proliferating. With severe fluid build up, the middle ear may have to be drained of the excess fluid in order to relieve pressure and allow air to flow through the ear.
Types of Ear Infections
In addition to viral and bacterial infections of the middle ear, another common type of ear infection is swimmer's ear, which affects the ear canal in the outer ear from excess water buildup which can lead to bacterial growth in the lining of the ear. Swimmer's ear (otitis externa) is usually treated with medicated drops. In rare cases, an ear infection can be caused by a fungal infection, in which case antifungal medications may be prescribed. Steroids are also sometimes used to help reduce inflammation.