1.What is an Ear Infection?
An ear infection happens when there is a viral and bacterial infection in the middle ear. It is the section of the ear behind the eardrum. When there is an infection there will be a buildup of fluid in the middle ear which is painful. These infections are extremely common in kids but even adults can get infected. But the difference is that ear infections in children do not lead to any serious health issues and they get cured quickly.
There can be two types of ear infections, they are:
- Acute: Occurs for a short duration and is painful
- Chronic: lasts for a long duration
Ear Infection Symptoms
The ear infection symptoms in children are slightly different from that of adults. Kids may have ear infections when they:
- Have a poor sleep
- Cry when made to lie down
- They keep pulling the ear
- Have a mild or high fever
- Irritable and restless
- Ear drainage
- Reduced appetite
Ear infection symptoms in adults are:
- Pain which can be dull, continuous, sharp or sudden
- Drainage from the ear canal
- Ringing sound or muffled hearing in the ear
- Fullness in ear
Symptoms may appear in one or both ears and they may come and go. When both ears are infected it is extremely painful. Chronic ear infections are not noticeable and hence it is recommended to see an ENT if there is fever or other signs.
2.Who is at Risk?
Ear infection risk factors are:
- Changes in climate
- Changes in altitude
- Use of pacifiers
- Illness or upper respiratory infection
- People having seasonal allergies or chronic allergies which are present all year
- People who have low immunity and illnesses that reduce immunity like AIDS
- Cleft palate, down syndrome, and other such health issues.
Children are more susceptible to ear infections than adults as they have a smaller eustachian tube than adults. Some kids will not have developed slope in tubes and hence have a high likelihood of ear infections. Bottle-fed infants are more vulnerable than those kids who are breastfed.
Ear Infection Causes
An ear infection happens when the eustachian tubes become blocked or swollen due to the build-up of fluid in the middle ear. This infection more often than not is caused by bacteria and can result in an outer or middle ear infection. These are small tubes that connect the ear and the throat. The blockage of this tube can happen due to:
- Swelling of adenoids due to bacterial or viral infections
- Common cold
- Sinus infections
- Excess mucus due to cold or other infections
- Smoking cigarettes can result in fluid buildup
- Changes in air and altitude lead to blocking of the tubes
- People living with smokers of cigarette and tobacco
3.How is Ear Infection diagnosed?
To diagnose this infection, an ear infection doctor will do a physical exam of the ears using an otoscope. An otoscope is a device used for an ear infection diagnosis, that has a magnifying lens and light to check the internals of the ear. During this test, the doctor will check for any fluid in the middle ear, any perforation, or bulging of the eardrum.
- Depending on the severity of the infection the fluid sample is sent for an Ear Infection test to determine the type of bacteria present.
- A CT scan of the head is advised based on the test results. It is to find out if the infection has spread from the middle ear to other parts.
- A hearing test may be needed to determine the effect of the infection.
4.How is Ear Infection treated?
Mild ear infections do not need any specific treatment or intervention from a doctor. You can use over the counter medicine for Ear Infection to relieve pain. If despite that your symptoms have not improved then you should set up an appointment with an ENT for ear infection treatment. The doctor may:
- Prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection
- Tubes are used to drain the fluid
- Surgery is needed to remove enlarged adenoids
If you have acute or chronic ear infections it is recommended that you speak to a doctor. We at Cure.fit have specialists who can determine the type and offer the best Ear Infection cure. Video online consultation services are available for one-on-one connect with experienced specialists.
5.How can Ear Infection be Prevented?
Some Ear infection prevention tips are:
- Keep your ears dry after a shower or swimming.
- Keep ears clean by using a cotton swab
- Wash hands thoroughly
- Stay away from people who have cold or other respiratory problems that spread through contact.
- Avoid known triggers that can cause infections and take appropriate medications for allergies.
- Avoid secondhand smoke or avoid smoking
- If you are taking care of a child keep the pacifier, bottles, etc clean through regular washing
- Breastfeeding infants is a good way to prevent infections
- Avoid usage of pacifiers in infants and children
- Vaccinate yourself and your kid