Otitis Externa is the inflammation or infection of the outer ear. Symptoms can include ear pain, itchy or fullness in the ear and possibly drainage. Drs. Mendians and Hengy will conduct a physical examination of the ear and may order further testing such a hearing test and tympanogram to determine if any hearing loss is present. Treatment can include eardrops and avoidance of water in the ear when swimming or showering and Tympanostomy with insertion of Ventilating Tube.
What Causes Ear Infections?
An ear infection may occur in the middle ear when the eustachian tube becomes blocked by inflammation. This blockage prevents fluid in the middle ear from draining, which can cause a middle ear infection. The majority of ear infections are viral or bacterial in nature, usually occurring after a cold or upper respiratory infection.
These conditions cause swelling of the Eustachian tube, a small canal that connects the middle ear to upper part of the throat and provides an outlet for fluid drainage, trapping germs and fluid in the middle ear and leading to infection.
Why Do Children Get Ear Infections so Frequently?
Because the Eustachian tube is smaller in children, it is more prone to swelling; when this occurs, fluid is trapped in the middle ear. This fluid presses against the eardrum, causing pain, and can harbor germs that lead to infection. The result is an earache and, in some cases, loss of hearing.
What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?
The hallmark signs of otitis media are pain and pressure in the ear and fluid drainage. These may be accompanied by a low-grade fever and hearing loss. Infants are often fussier than usual, and may cry inconsolably, refuse to eat and have trouble sleeping. They may also pull or tug on their ears.
Should You See a Doctor?
The sooner an acute ear infection is treated, the lower the chances of it developing into a chronic condition. Schedule an appointment with our clinic if:
- You experience fluid discharge, bloody fluid, or pus from your ear.
- Symptoms of an ear infection last longer than a day.
- You are in extreme pain.
- Your child shows symptoms and is under 6 months of age.
- Your toddler or infant shows symptoms following an upper respiratory infection or cold.
Can an Ear Infection Cause Complications?
If left untreated, chronic ear infections can lead to a variety of complications including hearing loss, damage to the bones in the middle ear, balance problems, a middle ear cyst called a cholesteatoma, facial paralysis and inflammation of the brain. For these reasons, early detection and treatment are crucial. Better still is prevention.
An Untreated Infection Can Lead to Mastoiditis.
Mastoiditis is a bacterial infection of the mastoid bone; the bone sits behind the ear and consists of air spaces that help drain the middle ear. This can occur due to unresolved middle ear infection (Otitis Media).
What Are the Symptoms of Mastoiditis?
Symptoms may include fever, swelling of the earlobe, redness or tenderness behind the ear, drainage from the ear or bulging and drooping of the ear. A full examination of the ear would be conducted along with possible blood tests, CT scans or an ear culture.
How Is Mastoiditis Treated?
Treatment may include oral antibiotics, ear drops or regular ear cleanings by Drs. Mendians and Hengy. In chronic cases mastoid surgery may be necessary.
How Are Ear Infections Treated?
OTC or Prescription Medication Options
Treating an ear infection begins at home. To help soothe symptoms, gently press a warm washcloth against the affected ear. Eardrops and over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve pain. Avoid aspirin, which can be dangerous to young children.
Up to 80% of ear infections may go away without antibiotics.NPR
Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat a chronic ear infection. Common options include amoxicillin. Antibiotics should always be taken until used up, even if you or your child’s symptoms appear to be improving; otherwise, the infection could worsen.
Surgery for Chronic Infections
When medication is not effective, a surgical solution involving ear tubes may be considered. These are inserted in the tympanic membrane, commonly known as the ear drum, and provide ventilation, keeping the ear clear and preventing infection. Most ear tubes remain in place anywhere from six to 18 months and eventually fall out on their own. If not, surgery to remove them is performed.
Call Western Michigan ENT at (231) 398-9536 for more information or to schedule an appointment.