Ear infections – they can cause problems for anyone of any age. Children commonly get them. They arrive with earaches, sore throats and a stuffy nose. In the United States, ear infections account for approximately half of all prescriptions written for antibiotics for children.
What Are Ear Infections?
Ear infections are common and treatable conditions that can negatively affect the ability of you to hear. It may occur in the space behind the eardrum or in the skin of the ear canal. The most common type of ear infection for adults and children is otitis media.Ear infections can be categorized as acute or chronic. Acute ear infections are generally short if painful.
They do not last for more than a few days. Chronic ear infections, however, are of longer duration. They may last a month or adopt a pattern of short but repetitive durations. In other words, a chronic ear infection is one that simply refuses to leave and may permanently recur.
Causes and Treatment of Ear Infections
The most common type of ear infection is otitis media. It occurs when the middle ear swells and is infected. In many cases, the problem will clear up in a short period without requiring medical attention. Yet, in other instances, particularly if the problem is chronic, your ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist will have to consider your options. This is true for all types of ear infections.
The culprit of infection may be a bacteria or a virus. Determining which causes it is important. It will determine what means of treatment your ENT specialist can employ. If you suffer from a bacterial ear infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. This should prove to be effective against the problem. However, if the source of your ear infection is viral, he or she will have to adopt another approach.
Why Is Treatment Necessary?
If you fail to address an ear infection, the result can be serious problems. Complications can follow what starts out as a simple ear infection. These include:
- Hearing loss – although this can be short term during and following an ear infection, it can be more permanent if the problem is left untreated
- Eardrum puncture
- Facial nerve paralysis
- Mastoiditis – a rare inflammation of those bone adjacent to the ear and around the skull)
- Meniere’s disease in adults
While it is true that many ear infections disappear in a short time without any indication of damages, it is important to monitor the condition. If you have an earache, make sure you talk to your doctor and follow his or her directions. If it becomes chronic ear infections, talk to an ENT. They are specialists in this field and can provide you with the help you need to ensure your simple ear infection does not evolve into a more serious condition.
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