If you have infants at home, you may have often consulted pediatrics for their ear infections. Young children are prone to developing an ear infection more than other age groups. No wonder half of all the antibiotics prescribed for the American children are for ear infections.
Earache and ear infections are often confused with each other. There is a distinction between the two. Earache is a common symptom of an ear infection. Ear infections can cause annoyance, discomfort, or ear-discharge.
Most of the inner ear infections develop and disappear on their own shortly. However, some infections may haunt you with frequent comebacks.
How Does an Ear Infection Develop?
Viruses are the root cause of an ear infection. Just behind our eardrums, there is a small air-filled cavity called “middle ear.” A passageway connects our middle ear to the back of the throat. Air also enters our middle ear through this route, i.e., the Eustachian tube.
The passageway is responsible for draining out the fluid of the middle ear. A virus attack on the fluid behind the eardrum may lead to an ear infection. Our middle ear needs ventilation, and when it does not get sufficient air, it becomes dry and warm. Germs breeding in the sinus or nose may enter the middle ear through the Eustachian tube.
Ear infections or otitis media is often the result of a blockage in the tube. An allergy, sinus infection, common cold or flu, and adenoid problems may clog the passageway.
Types of Middle Ear Infections
Let’s have a look at some of the Middle ear problems that may result in an ear infection.
· Acute Otitis Media (AOM)
Clogged Eustachian tubes cause fluids to build up in the middle ear. If the fluid behind the eardrum gets infected, it causes acute otitis media. The common symptoms include earache, fever, nausea, or sometimes ear-discharge.
· Otitis Media with Effusion (OME)
This infection is common in children. The bacteria or virus is not involved in otitis media with effusion (fluid buildup) in the middle ear. It usually occurs when fluid buildup persists in the middle ear even after an infection gets better. A blockage in the Eustachian tube may also cause OME.
· Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion (COME)
When the fluid in the middle ear remains trapped for a longer period –more than three months, it transforms into Chronic Otitis Media With Effusion. Children with COME are vulnerable to other ear infections and may lead to hearing problems.
· Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media (CSOM)
If an infection does not go away with regular medication, it may result in a hole in the eardrum.
There is no particular symptom to suggest if a person is suffering from a chronic ear infection. People with chronic ear infections report hearing problems. They may respond late or experience difficulty in speaking or reading.
If your ear infection is not going away on its own, it’s time to seek medical help. For OME, the American Academy of Otolaryngology does not recommend antibiotics, decongestants, or antihistamines. Antibiotics may work in case of an acute ear infection.
For treating chronic ear infection, you may try one of these options:
- Flush out the ear wax with dry mopping –of course with a doctor’s help.
- Over-the-counter pain killers and fever reducers may help with an ear infection too.
- Antibiotic drops may be effective if the infection has ruptured your eardrum, or has made a hole in the middle ear.
- Excess use of antibiotics may adversely affect your ears.
If your ear infection is persistent and is recurring, you should visit an ENT specialist immediately. Contact us today and book an appointment with the best Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor in NYC.