Ear infections occur due to viral or bacterial invasion of the ear canal, which primarily affects the middle ear. While infants and children are more prone to ear infections, adults can also suffer from the blockage of the Eustachian tube.
Although ear infections can self-heal, treatment is important to manage pain and other acute symptoms.
Ear infections, if left unchecked, can lead to hearing issues and further complications. Therefore, you must visit your nearest qualified ear specialist.
Here’s a guide to common ear infections along with causes and symptoms:
What is an Ear Infection? What Are the Symptoms of Ear Infections?
Ear infections occur in the middle and outer ear are less painful and quick to heal. However, an inner ear infection can be painful and unbearable.
A middle ear infection can occur due to narrowness of Eustachian tube, allergic reaction, microbial invasion, etc. While the inner ear infection is due to irritation or inflammation of the vestibular system involved in balancing and hearing. It occurs rarely due to the invasion of an external microbe: virus or bacteria.
When the inner ear is infected, you may experience the symptoms such as nausea, loss of balance, dizziness, vomiting, ringing sound in the ear, etc.
Symptoms of an Ear Infection
Common symptoms of ear infections:
- Pain in the ear while lying down
- Loss of appetite
- Fluid oozing out of the ear
- Excessive crying
- Trouble hearing
- Loss of balance
- Improper sleep
- Scratching the ear
- Pain in ear
- Difficulty in hearing
- Oozing out of fluid or puss from ear
- A feeling of pressure within the ear
Pain is quite unbearable in case of infection in both ears. The symptoms of chronic ear infection are less noticeable than acute ear infections.
Babies and children having high fever with no other symptoms can have an ear infection. These days you can opt for a home visit service for your convenience.
Causes of Ear Infections
Common causes of ear infections are:
1. Viral or bacterial infections
Viruses that cause inner ear infections include herpes viruses, polio, influenza, and Epstein-Bar virus. Bacteria associated with ear infections are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Haemophilus influenza.
2. Eustachian Tube dysfunction
Most common in children, it occurs due to narrow passage of Eustachian tube in babies and toddlers or in adults having improper tube function. Children between the ages of six months to two years are at a higher risk.
3. Allergic Reaction
Children and adults having seasonal hay fever or allergies to environmental allergens can have ear infections.
4. Common Cold
In young children, even common cold can weaken the immune system and increase the chances of ear infections.
5. Family History
People having a family history of ear infections are at a higher risk of getting ear infections.
6. Swollen Structures
Enlarged or swollen parts of throat, ear and nose can lead to infections.
Smoking, excessive mucus in the trachea, changes in air pressure, long-term exposure to moisture and sinus infections.
When Should You Visit the Doctor?
The duration of an infection depends on the severity of the infection and how early you get treated. Middle and outer ear infections are quite mild and can heal over time. However, a chronic infection can take up to 6 weeks to recover.
Inner ear infections are most worrisome as they can lead to partial or complete hearing loss. The vestibular system associated with hearing and balance can get damaged due to prolonged infection.
In fact, a newborn with hearing problems can get a proper hearing test from a hearing aid centre, which may offer a home visit service in case you are unable to make time for a checkup.
Moreover, for those who reside in Penang, regular visits to the ENT specialist in Penang can help you get a complete diagnosis of your ear. A detailed ear examination includes inspection of:
- Redness or pus-like fluid formation in the ear
- Any draining fluid from the ear
- Bulging or collapsed eardrums
- CT Scan/Hearing Test (Advanced stage of infection)
If the infection has advanced, a CT scan can determine how much the infection has spread out from the middle ear. After that, a hearing test may be performed to check if the infection has left an impact on your hearing ability. If you still uncertain, feel free to get in touch with us.