An ear infection occurs when bacteria or virus affects the middle ear. Ear infections can be painful because it results in ear inflammation and fluid build-up in the middle ear. Ear infections can be chronic or acute. Acute ear infections are painful but short-termed. Chronic infections do not cure easily, or they recur several times. Chronic ear infections may cause permanent damage to the ears.
Ear Infection causes and symptoms
Ear infections occur when one of the Eustachian tubes swells or is blocked and fluid builds up in the middle ear. Eustachian tubes run from each ear to the back of the throat. Few causes of Eustachian tube blockage include:
- Sinus infections
- Excess mucus
- Tobacco smoking
- Infected or swollen adenoids (tissue near your tonsils that trap harmful bacteria and viruses)
Ear infections occur mostly in young children. They have small and narrow Eustachian tubes which are easy to be blocked. Other factors that aggravate the risk of an ear infection are:
- Altitude changes
- Climate changes
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Pacifier use
- Recent illness or ear infection
A few of the common symptoms of ear infection are as follows:
- Mild pain in the ear
- A persistent feeling of pressure inside the ear
- Fussiness in young infants
- Pus-like ear drainage
- hearing impairment
These symptoms might continue or come and go. Symptoms may occur in just one or both ears. Chronic ear infection symptoms may be less noticeable than those of acute ear infections.
“Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses.”(WebMD) Sinuses, which are filled with air are blocked and filled with fluid, germs like bacteria, viruses, and fungi which can cause an infection.
Conditions that can cause a sinus infection are common cold, allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps or a deviated septum.
Different types of sinusitis are:
- Acute sinusitis: It is characterised by a sudden onset of cold-like symptoms such as runny, stuffy nose and facial pain that refuses to go away even after a fortnight.
- Subacute sinusitis: It is an inflammation which lasts from 4 to 8 weeks.
- Chronic sinusitis: It is a condition characterized by symptoms of sinus inflammation that last more than eight weeks.
- Recurrent sinusitis: It is characterised by several sinus attacks within a year.
Some of the primary symptoms of acute sinusitis are:
- Facial pain/pressure
- Nasal stuffiness
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of smell
Additional symptoms of sinus infection are:
- Bad breath
- Dental pain
Treatment for sinusitis depends on the severity of the infection.
- Acute sinusitis. Acute sinus infection is treated with decongestants like pseudoephedrine and steam inhalations.
- Chronic sinusitis. Warm moist air may alleviate chronic sinus infection. A vaporizer or inhaling steam may help. Warm compresses are used to relieve pain in nose and sinuses. Saline nose drops are used as a home remedy. Medicines for chronic sinusitis include antibiotics.
A list of ear problems is as follows:
Ear infections are most common ear problems in infants and young children. Adults can also get ear infections, but such cases are uncommon.
The infection usually affects the middle part of the ear and this infection is known as otitis media. The ear tubes present inside the ear gets clogged with mucus and fluid and it affects hearing. Ear infection symptoms for otitis media are:
- Tugging at ears
- Crying more than usual
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Trouble sleeping
- Balance difficulties
- Hearing problems
- Ear infection treatment
These ear infections usually get cured on their own. Your doctor may recommend pain relievers. However, severe infections require antibiotics. Ear infections in children often may need surgery to place small tubes inside their ears. These tubes relieve pressure to enable hearing.
It is characterised by a roaring, ringing, clicking, hissing, or buzzing in your ears. This ringing and roaring can result from loud noises, certain medications or a variety of other causes. The roaring or ringing may be soft or loud, high pitched or low pitched. It might be heard in either one or both ears. People with severe tinnitus may have trouble with hearing, working and sleeping.
Causes of tinnitus are:
- Hearing loss in older people
- Exposure to loud noises
- Ear and sinus infections
- Heart or blood vessel problems
- Meniere’s disease
- Brain tumours
- Hormonal changes in women
- Thyroid problems
- Certain medicines
Treatment of tinnitus depends on the cause of the disease. The treatments may include the use of hearing aids, sound-masking devices and medicines.
It is an ear related disease that is caused by fluid retention in your inner ear. The symptoms of Meniere’s disease includes severe dizziness, roaring sound in your ears, hearing impairment that comes and goes and a feeling of pressure or pain in the ears. It usually affects one ear and is a common cause of hearing loss.
There is no cure to this ear related disease. Treatments include medicines to control dizziness, limiting salt in your diet, and taking water pills. Severe cases may require surgery.
Ear barotrauma is an ear injury caused by changes in barometric or water pressure. A change in altitude may cause this ear related disease. This can happen while flying in an airplane, driving in the mountains, or during scuba diving.
Common symptoms of this ear related disease include:
- A feeling that your ears are stuffed
- Hearing loss
Treatments for ear barotrauma include chewing a chewing gum or yawning to relieve the pressure. Prescribed medications such as decongestants may also help.
Ear infection treatment
Here is a list of ear infection treatments.
- Antibiotics. They are often prescribed to cure ear infections.
- Homeopathy. Homeopathy treatments involve using highly diluted preparations of natural substances, typically made of plants and minerals, to treat symptoms of illness. It has proved to be effective when it comes to ear infections
- Chiropractic treatment. It involves manipulation of the body so that the skeleton is in alignment. Proponents of chiropractic treatment claim that these manipulations can prevent or cure ear infections.
- Xylitol. It is found in many fruits and is used as a natural sweetener in chewing gum. In some studies, xylitol has been found to help prevent ear infections.
- Probiotics. Certain strains of probiotics or “good” bacteria, which occur naturally in the body, may help to prevent ear infections in infants and children. Probiotics are considered safe and free of side effects.
There are other ear infection treatments such as acupuncture and herbal eardrops. The effectiveness and safety of alternative treatments require more studies and research.
So, now that you are aware of the types of ear infections, ear infection causes and symptoms and ear infection treatments, identify your symptoms and consult a doctor for effective treatment and cure.
All the treatments – medicines, injections and vaccines are for general information of the reader. Please consult a doctor and get a formal prescription before taking any medicines, supplements and injections.
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