Ear infections occur when bacteria or a virus trap fluid in the space behind the eardrums. These middle ear ailments are the most common reason children see medical providers. Ear infections can cause pain and inflammation and should be treated as soon as possible. Here is everything you need to know about these infections, including causes, symptoms, and ear infection treatments.
What Is an Ear Infection?
Either viruses or bacteria cause ear infections. They typically form in the inner ear but can also occur in the outer or inner ear. Some conditions may go away without medication, but some need to be treated with prescription or over-the-counter medications.
These infections can be acute or chronic. Acute cases are often accompanied by inflammation and pain but do not last long. Many young children experience chronic infections. In these cases, symptoms do not clear up for months or may come back many times in a short period of time. Chronic conditions can cause damage if left untreated.
What Are the Symptoms of Ear Infections?
Symptoms often vary depending on whether the infection is acute or chronic. However, common symptoms of both types of conditions include:
- Mild to moderate discomfort
- Pressure inside the ear
- Pus or drainage
- Mild to moderate hearing loss
Some symptoms may go away without ear infections treatments to come back a few weeks later. Infections may occur in one ear or both ears. Symptoms associated with chronic ailments are typically less severe than those of acute conditions.
What Causes an Ear Infection?
Ear infections can be viral or bacterial. If they are bacterial, they are typically caused by streptococcus pneumoniae. Ear infections can occur when your Eustachian tubes become blogged. Eustachian tubes are the tubes that connect your ears to the back of the throat. When blockages occur, fluid builds up in the middle ear. While blockages can occur for numerous reasons, common causes include:
- Air pressure changes
- Smoking cigarettes
- Sinus infections
While infections typically develop in the inner ear from blocked Eustachian tubes, they can also arise from infected adenoids. The adenoids are little pieces of tissue in the back of your throat that help protect the body from viruses. Infections can spread from the adenoids to the nearby Eustachian tubes.
How Are Ear Infections Treated?
While some cases may go away without interventions, more severe situations may require a prescription or over-the-counter ear infection treatments. The following home treatments can help relieve the symptoms associated with a mild infection:
- Take an over-the-counter pain medication such as Advil or Tylenol
- Use ear drops
- Sleep on your back instead of on the infected ear
- Place a warm cloth on the impacted ear.
If symptoms do not go away with home treatments, you should see a doctor. Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections. Antibiotics do not work for viral ear infections.
Get In Touch With HEAR Center
Do you have hearing loss from chronic ear infections? We offer expert hearing and speech services for patients of all ages.
Contact us today to learn more about our services or to make an appointment:
Call or text: (626) 734-6555
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Also, for more information about our Audiological Evaluations (hearing test) please visit our webpage: https://www.hearcenter.org/services/audiology/