Posts for tag: ear infection
Ear infections can be quite the nuisance, particularly if it’s something that your little one deals with often. While anyone can develop ear infections, babies and young children are at an increased risk for ear infections. Since children’s Eustachian tubes (a structure that connects the middle ear with the pharynx, the cavity that lies behind the nose and mouth) aren’t fully developed it makes it easier for factors such as a common cold to lead to blocked Eustachian tubes and ear infections.
If there is a family history of ear infections, if your child is exposed to secondhand smoke or if your child develops colds and flus regularly then they may be at an increased risk for an ear infection. The most common types of ear infections are a middle ear infection, swimmer’s ear (which affects the outer ear canal), and labyrinthitis (causes inflammation of the inner ear or nerves of the inner ear).
Of course, babies and toddlers won’t be able to tell you that they are experiencing ear pain; however, there are other signs to look out for, including:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Drainage coming from the ear
- Increased irritability or crying more often
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Increased fussiness or clinginess
- Lack of energy
If your child is displaying any of these symptoms it’s a good idea to take them in to see their pediatrician. Of course, if your child is often dealing with recurring or severe ear infections, visiting an otolaryngologist might be the best medical professional to help you figure out what’s causing these frequent infections and how to put a stop to them.
Of course, adults may also face ear infections. You may wake up in the middle of the night with an ear that is throbbing and painful. If this is the case, turning to an ENT doctor can help alleviate your symptoms. Depending on the type and severity of you or your little one’s ear infection, an ENT specialist will tell you whether or not antibiotics will be necessary for fighting the infection.
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and applying a warm compress to the ear can also help you manage your discomfort until the ear infection goes away. Leaving an ear infection untreated is never a good idea, as it can lead to complications such as hearing loss. This is why it’s important that you or your child receive the proper medical attention necessary if you suspect an ear infection.
Approximately five out of six children struggle with some type of ear infection before they reach age three. Ear infections are most common in children because their immune systems are still developing, but they can also happen in adults. Learn more about the causes and various types of ear infections as well as the treatments that a Cary, NC ENT at Wake Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists can provide.
Causes of Ear Infections
Much like any infection, ear infections are caused by exposure to harmful bacteria. The ear canal is overwhelmed by bacteria, causing pain, inflammation and hearing loss in serious cases. Here are a few of the most common causes of ear infections:
- Exposure to school-aged children.
- Allergy symptoms.
- Sinusitis and asthma.
- Cold, flu and respiratory viruses.
- Swimming in bacteria-infested water, like ponds or untreated pool water.
- Genetics (some patients are more prone to ear infections).
Types of Ear Infections
An ear infection is not something that should be ignored because without prompt treatment, it could affect the quality of a patient’s hearing. There are several different types of ear infections that you should be aware of if you’re prone to ear problems:
- Acute Otitis Media (AOM)—caused by fluid buildup that often happens after a cold or the flu.
- Otitis Media with Effusion (OME)—fluid is trapped behind the eardrum.
- Acute Otitis Externa (also called “Swimmer’s Ear”)—inflammation of the outer ear.
Ear Infection Treatments
After an ear infection is diagnosed with a thorough exam, a treatment will be administered or prescribed by your Cary ENT that depends on the type of infection. If the patient is a very young child, a “wait and see” approach may be implemented to avoid the use of an antibiotic. If needed, you will likely receive a prescription for a topical antibiotic or ear drop that you can administer yourself at home for the prescribed number of days or weeks. In some cases, an ear tube insertion may be necessary to drain fluid from the ear and aid the healing process. An over the counter pain reliever will help ease discomfort.
Get Help from an Ear Specialist
If you have any of the symptoms of an ear infection, whether it’s persisting pain, fluid in the ear or problems hearing, make an urgent appointment with a Cary, NC ENT as soon as possible. Call Wake Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists at (919) 851-5636 today for assistance.