Do you need a doctor for ear infection? An ear infection is a painful collection of germs, bacteria, and viruses in the ear due to fluid buildup or inflammation. It can also affect the outer ear, but is most commonly associated with viral middle ear infection. Although ear infections can be both acute and chronic, they both are equally quite painful.
You can treat an acute ear infection quickly, but treating a chronic ear infection is quite difficult since they keep recurring. A chronic ear infection can even cause permanent damage to the inner or middle ear.
Types of Ear Infections
Outer Ear Infection
The outer ear infection affects the ear canal or the pinna. It is treatable with topical therapies, ear drops, or oral ingestion of antibiotics, depending on the severity of the infection. A typical type of outer ear infection is swimmer’s ear (Otitis Externa). Diabetic people are at a higher risk for certain outer ear infections.
Middle Ear Infection
Middle ear infection affects the area or section of your ear that is directly behind the eardrum. Although this type of infection can happen at any age, it is most common in children. You can treat your ear infection with antibiotics, but depending on the clinical scenario, steroids can also be a possible treatment.
Causes of an Ear Infection
An ear infection can happen when you have a blocked or swollen Eustachian tube that causes excess fluid to build up in the ear. These are those tiny tubes present in each ear, and that runs to the back of the throat.
The following things can cause a Eustachian tube to be blocked:
- Sinus infection
- Excess mucus
- Change in the air pressure
- Swollen or infected adenoids which are tissues located near the tonsils and trap harmful viruses and bacteria.
Symptoms of an Ear Infection
The symptoms of an ear infection are quite distinct. Answer the following questions to see if a visit to an ENT specialist is due.
- Are you experiencing discomfort or mild pain inside your ear?
- Do you feel a pressure inside your ear that continues to persist?
- Is your child presenting signs of fussiness?
- Have you noticed a pus-like fluid or drainage from your ear?
- Are you experiencing hearing loss?
If you are experiencing any one of these symptoms in one or both ears, regardless of symptoms persisting or recurring, then it is prudent to consult an ENT specialist at your earliest. This is because the chronic ear infection symptoms are more subtle, but if left untreated can cause permanent hearing loss.
If you have a double ear infection, then you can expect to experience very sharp and severe pain.
You should also see a professional health care provider if your child is younger than six months and has fewer symptoms but a severe ear pain coupled with a fever higher than 102oF, i.e., 39oC.
Treatment for an Ear Infection
The treatment is straightforward for a mild ear infection since the ear clears up without intervention. The methods you can adopt to relieve a mild ear infection’s symptoms effectively are:
- Put a slightly warm cloth on the affected ear.
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen) to dull the pain.
- Using prescribed or OTC ear drops to relieve pain.
- Taking OTC decongestants like Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) is also useful.
Apart from these treatments, book an appointment with an ENT specialist, especially if the symptoms get worse instead of improving. Doctors may prescribe additional antibiotics if you have a case of chronic ear infection.
Doctors can also prescribe antibiotics to children under the age of 2 years. It is vital to finish your antibiotic course completely as prescribed.
If the symptom continues to persist even after the usual medical treatment, then surgery is a very likely option. The procedure for the surgery involves draining out the buildup fluid by placing tubes in the ear. Another surgical procedure for an ear infection is removing the enlarged adenoids.
Doctor for Ear Infection
An ear infection is a severe condition that you should not take lightly. Expert ENT specialists like Dr. Michael Burnett highly recommend seeking the treatment as early as spotting the first symptom. Not letting the ear infection progress form a mild to a severe stage is vital for comfortable treatment.
Visit Dr. Michael Burnett at his offices, or can give him a call at 212-867-4813 for more information about your ear infection.