What is an ear infection?
An ear infection is an infection that occurs in the middle ear, behind the eardrums. Persistent and frequent ear infections can lead to tearing of the eardrum and hearing loss.
Also referred to as acute otitis media, ear infections are more commonly found in children because of their underdeveloped ear structure.
What causes ear infections?
Ear infections are caused by bacteria or viruses that enter the middle ear. Ear infections result from the common cold, the flu, or allergies, which cause the eustachian tubes (drainage tubes in the middle ear) to become blocked and filled with fluid. If this fluid becomes infected, it can result in the symptoms of an ear infection.
What are the symptoms of an ear infection?
Ear infection symptoms are different for children and adults. Common symptoms in adults include:
- Ear pain
- Fluid coming from the ears
- Difficulty hearing
Common symptoms of ear infection in children include:
- Tugging the ears
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of balance
What is swimmer’s ear?
Swimmer’s ear is an ear infection of the outer ear canal. Excess water left in the ears promotes the growth of bacteria, leading to infection. Swimming, prolonged humid weather, and heavy sweating can all lead to swimmer’s ear.
Use of items like cotton swabs and scratching can cause small abrasions in the ear canal that can also become infected.
How are ear infections treated?
Many ear infections resolve on their own. If your symptoms are tolerable, your Quick Doc provider may recommend a wait-and-see approach to allow the body to fight the infection on its own. Over-the-counter pain medications are used to relieve symptoms as you recover.
You should especially seek treatment if you or a loved one run a persistent fever. If your symptoms become severe or the infection doesn’t improve, antibiotics are used to effectively clear the ear of infection. There are also surgical options for treating cases of long-term or chronic ear infections.
If you or a loved one experience the symptoms of an ear infection, drop by the office today or book an appointment by phone.