The ear has three sections: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Each of these sections is vulnerable to infections, which can be painful. Though ear pain can resolve itself in a matter of days, physical exams will help you understand the type of infection and keep it from spreading. Examinations will also help you find a treatment that will reduce your pain. While everyone has a tendency to get ear infections, young children are the most susceptible.
Outer Ear Infection (Otitis Externa)
Outer ear infections happen when water, sand or dirt gets into the ear canal, which is why this infection is also known as Swimmer's Ear. Moisture in the air or swimming makes the ear more susceptible to this type of outer-ear infection. Symptoms of an infection include: severe pain, itching, redness and swelling in the outer ear. You may also find some fluid drainage. It is also a sign of infection if you pull on your ear or chew gum and the pain is worse. To stop the pain and prevent other long-term effects on the ear, be sure to see a doctor. Untreated otitis externa may lead to further problems including hearing loss, recurring ear infections and bone and cartilage damage. If your doctor diagnoses you with otitis externa, they will likely prescribe eardrops to block bacterial growth. They may also prescribe an antibiotic and pain medication. Though it may be painful, most outer ear infections In more severe cases, your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic and pain medication. Most outer ear infections settle in a week to 10 days.
Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Often brought on by airborne or foodborne allergies, infections in the body, nutritional deficiencies, or a blocked Eustachian tube, middle ear infections are caused by either bacterial or viral infection. In some cases, typically chronic, a thick, glue-like fluid may be discharged from the middle ear. The care for otitis media depends on the cause of the infection, though most treatments will include analgesic eardrops, medications, the surgical insertion of a tube to drain fluid from the middle ear or an adenoidectomy.
Inner Ear Infection (Otitis Interna)
An inner ear infection, also known as labyrinthitis, is usually caused by other infections in the body, especially sinus, throat or tooth infections. Symptoms for otitis interna include dizziness, fever, nausea, vomiting, hearing loss and tinnitus. The symptoms for an inner ear infection are serious, so you should always seek medical attention if you think you may be experiencing one.
Please contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists if you believe you or your child may have an ear infection.