Ear Infection Treatment
There are different types of infections that can affect different parts of the ear. Some require urgent care and some don’t. Many ear infections are in the middle ear. Bacteria and viruses can cause these ear infections. A middle-ear condition that occurs with fluid buildup, but no infection is called otitis media with effusion. This condition does not cause fever, pain or a buildup of pus. Swimmer’s ear occurs when the outer ear canal is infected.
High in the back of the throat, behind the nasal passages, are the eustachian tubes, which attach to the middle ear. The tubes open and close near the throat to regulate the air pressure in the inner ear and to refresh the air in the ear. They also drain out normal secretions from the middle ear. When the tubes become swollen and blocked, fluids build up in the middle ear. If the fluid becomes infected, you experience the pain of an ear infection.
Children experience ear infections far more often than adults. The eustachian tubes in children are more susceptible to blockage. They are narrower and more horizontal and do not drain as well as those of adults. Babies who drink from a bottle while lying down are more likely to suffer from ear infections.
Ear infections often clear up on their own, with symptoms improving within a couple of days. Your doctor may take a wait-and-see approach if symptoms are not severe. Over-the-counter pain medication may be advised to handle discomfort. Anesthetic drops are sometimes used to relieve ear pain. If the eardrum is perforated or torn, these drops should not be used.
Symptoms of Ear Infection
Unlike some illnesses that take a while to develop symptoms, ear infections will show symptoms right away. Adults will have ear pain and may have trouble hearing or have drainage from the ear.
Babies and young children will show signs of:
- Crying while tugging or pulling at an ear
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty hearing and responding to sounds
- Loss of appetite
- Drainage of fluid from the ear
- A fever over 100 F (38 C)
- Loss of balance
If your child is under six months old and shows signs of an ear infection, he or she needs to be seen by a doctor. Anyone who has a discharge of fluid, bloody fluid or pus from the ear should be examined. Ear infection symptoms that are ongoing or severe ear pain also warrant a visit to the doctor.
Contact our office and make an appointment to see Dr. Michael if you or your child has ongoing ear infection symptoms.