9 Commonly Asked Questions About Ear Infections

9 Commonly Asked Questions About Ear Infections

When you were a child, you surely recall the excruciating discomfort of an infection in the ear. Or maybe you’ve been up all night watching your child scream their way through an ear infection. However, 20% of ear infections in adults are not exclusively limited to children.

Even though infections in the ears are widespread and can affect anybody at any time of year, incidences tend to surge in the winter as a result of the spread of disorders brought on by cooler temperatures, such as the flu, pneumonia, sore throat, and the typical cold.

Let’s explore in this article the type of questions about ear infections that you may have when you see an ear infection.

Types of Ear Infections

Types of Ear Infections

Otitis externa, or external ear infection

Water that remains in the outer ear canal, creating a wet environment for bacteria to flourish, is often the cause of an outer ear infection, also known as a swimmer’s ear. Although many children also have ear infections of this type, they are most common in adults (particularly after frequent swimming or bathing). Outer ear infections are also more common in kids and adults who often place cotton swabs in their ear canals.

Infection in the middle ear (otitis media)

A middle ear infection occurs when fluid accumulates in the air-filled area behind the eardrum where the tiny vibrating bones of the ear are located. Your Eustachian tubes drain fluid away from your lungs when they’re functioning properly. Your Eustachian tubes discharge fluid from your middle ear when they are functioning normally. However, the fluid cannot drain if the tubes are bloated as a result of your illness (a cold, the flu, strep throat, etc.). Instead, it gathers beneath the inner eardrum, which facilitates bacterial growth.

Otitis labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection

The portion of your eardrum that controls your posture, perception, and other vital bodily functions is called your inner ear. Fortunately, inner illnesses of the ears are not common. They occur when the inside of the ear gets inflamed or irritated, which is again typically brought on by a cold, the flu, allergies, or something similar. The inner ear may potentially become infected in addition to the middle ear.

9 Commonly Asked Questions About Ear Infections

  • What causes ear infections?

When mucus containing bacteria or viruses becomes caught in your ear, it can cause an infection. These stowed bacteria may eventually cause ear disease.

Ear infections can affect everyone, though children tend to experience them more frequently than adults. The Eustachian tubes, which join the ears to the throat, are shorter and more perpendicular in younger kids, which makes it more difficult for liquid to pass out.

  • Are infections of the ear spreadable?

You cannot transmit your ear infection to another person, but the viruses and bacteria that cause ear infections can.

  • What signs indicate an ear infection?

What signs indicate an ear infection?

Ear discomfort is the hallmark sign of an ear infection. Young kids who are unable to talk can scratch or pull at their ears, scream more frequently than usual, eat less frequently, or have problems falling asleep.

All ear infections may result in hearing loss or distorted hearing. The sort of infection in the ears you have will determine any additional symptoms.

Symptoms of an outer ear infection include:

  1. Tenderness of the ear structures around the ear canal’s opening
  2. Redness in your ear canal or on your outer ear
  3. Itchiness
  4. Swelling
  5. Depending on the degree of the infection, the fluid draining from your ear may be clear and odorless or yellowish-green and stinky.

Symptoms of a middle ear infection include:

  1. 100 to 104-degree fever
  2. Warm fluid leaking from your ear, which could be white, yellow, or brown, and signify a ruptured ear drum
  3. increased pressure in the ears during swallowing or sleeping

Symptoms of an inner ear infection include:

  1. Dizziness
  2. nausea or diarrhea
  3. Balance problems
  • What brings on childhood ear infections?

Again, water immersion is the most common cause of outer ear infections in children (as well as adults). The increasing use of earbuds and headphones is another risk factor for outer ear infections.

Numerous illnesses and medical conditions (such as colds, sinus infections, allergies, and even acid reflux) can cause children’s Eustachian tubes to grow and become unable to drain fluid, making the child more vulnerable to ear infections.

The Mayo Clinic also confirms that ear infections in kids are more common when they are exposed to secondhand smoke, bottle-feeding, using a dummy, being in a childcare setting, and seasonal variables (winter, we’re looking at you!).

  • What causes ear infections in adults?

The same cold-weather illnesses and medical conditions that cause ear infections in children can also cause ear infections in adults. Adults with weakened immune systems and particular medical conditions (such as diabetes, eczema, or psoriasis) are also more likely to frequently contract ear infections.

  • What triggers recurrent ear infections?

Numerous factors, including bacterial infections, ear damage, and allergies, can result in recurrent ear infections. If you have three or more ear infections in six months, speak with your doctor or a healthcare provider to learn about your treatment options, which may include ear tube surgery.

  • How can infections of the ears be avoided?

Limiting the risk factors that put you and your family at risk is the most effective strategy to avoid getting ear infections:

  1. Regularly cleanse your hands, particularly during the cold and flu season, keep ill children separated, and manage your allergy symptoms
  2. After swimming, rinse your ears.
  3. every year, get a seasonal flu vaccination.
  4. Keeping away from indirect smoke
  5. Don’t give your youngster a bottle before bed.
  • When should an ear infection be treated by a doctor?

When should an ear infection be treated by a doctor?

You shouldn’t disregard an ear infection. An untreated ear infection might cause irreversible hearing loss. A child’s ability to walk and talk may also stall in children with recurrent ear infections.

As soon as possible, go to a healthcare urgent care facility if

  1. There is a fever in your baby who is younger than three months old (102° F or above for older children).
  2. Your ear hurts a lot.
  3. Your ear is dripping fluid.
  4. You notice modifications in your hearing
  5. After a few days, the infection does not react to treatment.
  • What remedies are available to prevent ear infections? 

Feeding promotes healthy facial growth and immune system development, both of which reduce the risk of ear infections. It is advised to breastfeed a child for at least the first three months of life, if not longer. 

Additionally, timely immunization against influenza and pneumococcal disease for your child lowers the incidence of ear infections. Despite your obvious concern for your child’s comfort and safety, there is good news: most children outgrow ear infections by the time they are 3 to 5 years old. 


  • Medline plus
  • Health.gov
  • Nih.gov