It is normal to get an earache when you are having an ear infection. This usually happens due to viral or bacterial infections inside the ear. It leads to inflammation in most cases in the middle ear and causes a lot of pain. Even children can get affected by this condition and they get very irritated due to the symptoms of ear infection. It can occur in one ear or both of them at a time. While acute ear infections do not last for a long period, they are very painful. However, they do not do any long-term damage to the ears. On the other hand, chronic ear infections affect you repeatedly and you will have to suffer for a long time. It can cause permanent damage in the long run when proper treatment is not provided. It is possible to treat this condition with proper medication.
Symptoms of Ear Infection:
– Most people having ear infection will complain about pain in the ears and this increases when you are in a sleeping position. You will also notice severe pain when the ear is pulled.
– This can lead to difficulty in sleeping and you will wake up often during sleep due to the pain and discomfort in the ear region.
– When children have this infection, they tend to cry often and this can be due to the irritation caused by an ear infection.
– You will also sense a loss of balance and this can happen when you are moving at a quick pace. If you have kids suffering from this condition, you will see them stumble often for no reason and this indicates that something is wrong with their ears.
– It is also common to have difficulty in hearing when you are suffering from an ear infection. However, this is a temporary condition and it will become normal once the infection is treated properly in the future.
– Some people also experience fluids flowing from the ears at frequent intervals. If this continues for more than a couple of days, you need to visit your doctor and get yourself examined for an ear infection.
– Many patients also complain about a headache and loss of appetite due to this condition.
Causes of Ear Infection:
– You are likely to get an ear infection when you are suffering from any other illness. When you are having cold or fever, this can cause congestion in the nasal region and this will lead to ear infection in some cases.
– The ear is connected to the throat through the Eustachian tubes that are responsible for regulating the air pressure in the middle ear and it also drains various waste materials from this region.
– When you have inflammation in the nasal region, it can block the Eustachian tubes and fluids get accumulated in this region. This leads to bacterial infection at a later stage and causes an ear infection.
– In the same manner, adenoids of the nasal region that regulate the immune system may get inflammation and this can block the Eustachian tubes as they are very close to them. In this situation, you are likely to get an ear infection.
– In some cases, the infection can happen even without any bacterial or viral infection and this is due to the accumulation of fluids in the middle ear. This condition is called otitis media with effusion and fluids can stay in this region even after the ear infection is cured.
– Similarly, chronic otitis media with effusion leads to fluid retention in the middle ear region and this can lead to further cases of ear infection. It happens especially in children as they are prone to such infections due to various reasons.
– In the event of chronic suppurative otitis media, the eardrum gets damaged and this can lead to various complications in the future.
Diagnosis of Ear Infection:
– Physical examination: When you approach your doctor with symptoms of an ear infection, they will carefully diagnose the ears with a pneumatic otoscope that has special features to detect ear infection. It has lights at the end so that your doctor can clearly see the inside of the ears and determine whether or not you have an ear infection. They will also puff a small amount of air inside the ears to check the movement of the eardrum. When it is filled with fluids, the movement will be minimal and this confirms the infection in the ears.
– Tympanometry: This is a special test used to measure eardrum movement and it creates special air pressure inside the ear canal to check the movement. It can clearly tell how easily the eardrum is moving and this will give a clear indication about the fluid accumulation in this region.
– Acoustic reflectometry: In this test, the ability of the eardrum to catch sounds is measured. Whenever sound hits the eardrum, it reflects back and what amount of sound is absorbed can also be noticed. When you have an infection, the sound absorbed will be less and most of it will be reflected.
Prevention of Ear Infection:
– It is possible to prevent ear infection by following the simple guidelines given in this article. To begin with, you need to get your children vaccinated against the flu. This will prevent various diseases and they will naturally develop the ability to fight common bacteria and viruses that cause an ear infection.
– Apart from that, you should also provide other regular vaccines as suggested by your doctor. This helps to build immunity in their body and they will be able to withstand bacterial and viral infection. It is also noted that children who are properly vaccinated get very few infections in their lifetime. In this way, you can easily prevent ear infection in the long run by choosing to vaccinate your kids.
– It is always a good idea to feed your kids in the sitting position. If they drink from a bottle, make sure they are not sleeping as they are drinking as this can increase the chances of getting an ear infection in the future.
– You will be surprised to know that exposing babies to cigarette smoke increases the chances of getting an ear infection. If you have smokers at home, make sure that babies are not directly exposed to such activities as it can severely affect their health and also cause a lot of pain due to an ear infection.
– As children grow up, they tend to play outside and get in touch with various substances. They will also meet other children and this makes them prone to getting various infections. The best way to avoid this is to cultivate proper hygienic practices in them at an early stage. Make sure that they wash their hands properly before eating anything as this will kill any virus and bacteria in the hands. This becomes even more important when they are suffering from fever or any other symptoms.
– If you have a newborn baby at home, you should breastfeed the baby for as long as possible as this will build immunity in a natural way and prevent various infections in the future.
Treatments for Ear Pain:
– Medication: The first step is to reduce the infection by providing antibiotics. This depends on the severity of the symptoms and the age of the patients. It may not be used for very young children or the dosage may be altered to suit their overall health condition. Your doctor may also choose to wait for a couple of days after symptoms have emerged to begin the treatment.
– The next step is to control the pain and having a warm and moist cloth on the surface of the ears can ease the pain to a certain extent. Apart from that, you may also choose to take some medication to reduce the pain. However, make sure that you consult your doctor before taking any medication for reducing the pain as it may affect other organs.
– When the infection is very severe, your doctor may decide to drain the fluids from the middle ear region. This requires a small surgery and tiny holes are created in the eardrum to suck the fluids. After this is done, the tympanostomy tube is placed which acts as a ventilation point for the middle ear region. This can prevent further accumulation of fluids in this region. In some cases, the tubes will stay for as long as a few months and they will fall on their own without any need for external removal. After this is done, the eardrum will close the hole in a normal way and continue to function properly without any hassles.
Complications of Ear Infection:
– Most people do not face any complications with this condition and they will get relief in a quick time. Only in a few cases, it can become extremely painful or result in permanent damage in the long run.
– With a chronic ear infection, many people suffer hearing loss and this can happen mildly or in a severe manner depending on the treatment given to the patient. In many cases, this may not be a permanent side effect and it may only last for the duration of the infection. In very rare cases, it may lead to a complete hearing loss when the eardrum gets affected. There is no need to worry about the temporary hearing loss as this will go away on its own after the infection is cured.
– When infants suffer from this problem, they may not develop speech abilities at the right time. This can also affect their social skills as they will not be on par with other kids their age and this leads to slow developmental skills in the long run. You need to be very careful about this issue and ensure that your kids are not suffering from an ear infection for a long time.
– In very rare cases, the infection in the middle ear can spread to other nearby tissues and even affect the brain. This will cause various complications and can affect the functioning of the brain. However, it does not happen regularly and it is very uncommon. For this reason, you need to be very careful about the ear infection and always approach your doctor as soon as you notice any pain that stays for a few days.
– In extreme cases, the eardrum can get torn due to the infection and you will have to face the painful situation for many days. In usual cases, it may recover itself in a natural way within a few days. When this is not happening, surgery may be needed to heal the eardrum.
Myths about Ear Pain:
Myth #1: It always causes a fever :
There is no compulsion that you will get a fever when you are having an ear infection. This is not the case even with kids and you will notice many cases where the patient will not have any other symptoms apart from ear pain and fluid discharge. However, when you get fever due to an ear infection, you need to treat it separately using medication.
Myth #2: Wind exposure causes ear infection :
It is a popular myth that you are likely to get an ear infection when you are exposed to constant wind. Many people do not take their kids outside due to this reason or they make sure that they cover the ears with caps. However, you need to understand that the eardrum is located deep inside the ear canal and regular wind cannot affect them in any manner.
Myth #3: Antibiotics must for treatment :
there is no need to use antibiotics to treat an ear infection in every case. Remember that you will be prescribed antibiotics only when the infection is due to bacteria and in other cases, there is no need for such medication.
As you can notice, an ear infection is quite common. It is very common among kids as their immune system is not yet developed completely and they can easily get affected due to bacterial and viral infection. It causes pain and discomfort in the ears and can trouble you for many days. However, with proper treatment, you can get back to normal within a few days when the infection is not very severe. When you are dealing with a severe infection, you need long-term treatment to get proper remedy for this condition.