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304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
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.
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.
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.
You cannot transmit your ear infection to another person, but the viruses and bacteria that cause ear infections can.
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:
Symptoms of a middle ear infection include:
Symptoms of an inner ear infection include:
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!).
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.
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.
Limiting the risk factors that put you and your family at risk is the most effective strategy to avoid getting ear infections:
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
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.