As a caring parent, you already know how often your children come down with ear pain. However, teenagers and adults also experience this problem.
Along with ear pain, some patients may have a runny nose, fever, and sore throat. These are signs of an infection. It’s good to talk to a professional doctor to discuss your condition and get the best ear infection treatment.
What’s Ear Infection?
An ear infection is a bacterial/viral infection that occurs in the middle ear. The middle ear is the part of the ear between the oval window and eardrum, and it’s used for transmitting sound from the outer ear to the inner ear.
Ear infections can be acute or chronic. Acute infections last for a few minutes while chronic ones can lead to permanent damage to the middle and inner ear. Ear infection treatment is focused on reducing pain and monitoring the problem regularly.
Some patients can have multiple infections, which can lead to hearing problems and other serious issues.
Symptoms of Ear Infection
Some of the common symptoms for ear infection are-
- Pain & discomfort inside the ear
- Drainage of fluid from the ear
- Hearing loss
- A feeling of pressure inside the ear
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep problems
If not treated, the symptoms may persist over time. Some patients experience the infection in both ears, in which the pain is more severe. Usually, chronic ear infections are less noticeable than acute infections.
Causes of Ear Infection
Ear infection can result from a virus or bacteria in the middle ear, which is caused by cold, flu or allergy. It can lead to swelling and congestion of the throat, nasal passages, and eustachian tubes. Eustachian tubes connect between the ears and the back of the throat.
When Eustachian Tubes are swollen, they are blocked, thus producing fluids in the middle ear. When the fluid becomes infected, it causes ear infection. However, in children, the tubes are narrower, thus are more likely to get clogged.
Some of the common causes of blockage of the Eustachian tubes are-
- Sinus infections
- Excess mucus
Swelling of adenoids can also lead to blocking the Eustachian tubes. This is common among children because they have adenoids larger than that of adults.
Here are some other related conditions, which may result in ear infection-
- Otitis media with effusion- Fluid buildup because of dysfunction/noninfectious blockage of the tubes
- Chronic Otitis media with effusion- the fluid stays in the middle ear, and return. This may affect the hearing.
- Chronic suppurative otitis media- It usually doesn’t treat and can result in a hole in the eardrum.
Diagnosing Ear Infection
An otolaryngologist examines ears using a special instrument called otoscope. The instrument has a magnifying lens and a light, and it can help in examining-
- Fluid draining
- Redness and air bubbles inside the middle ear
- Collapsed eardrum
- A perforation in the eardrum
In case the condition is severe, the doctor may take a sample of the fluid inside the ear, and do further examination. However, they may also need a CT scan of the head to evaluate if the infection is expanded beyond the middle ear. Additionally, a hearing test is done to determine the role of infection on your hearing.
Ear Infection Treatment Options
The ear infection treatment depends on what causes the condition. If a virus caused the infection, antibiotics may not help. However, based on the medical history and if the doctor suspects that bacteria has caused the infection, they may prescribe an antibiotic. You can have an open discussion with the doctor on how to deal with the symptoms.
Pain is associated with ear infection. Usually, doctors prescribe pain medications such as—acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Mortin). These medications also help in reducing a fever along with relieving pain.
However, you should avoid giving children patients Aspirin, which may lead to Reye’s syndrome, which involves swelling in the brain or liver.
Additionally, for pain relief, you can also use a heating pad.
If the infection caused serious effects, you may experience fluid coming out from the ear. In such a case, the doctor may go for a procedure called Myringotomy. The doctor may make a small hole in the eardrum to provide the water, blood or pus the way to drain out.
However, they may put in a tube to avoid fluid coming back into the ear. In addition to letting the fluid out, the tube may also help in keeping the ear dry.
Other benefits of the tube are-
- Pain relief
- Improves hearing
- Reduces the chances of infections
Children patients need to sleep during the procedure, which usually lasts for fifteen minutes. However, older patients can have it done without any complication.
For patients who are deciding to take antibiotics, it’s necessary to follow the instructions given by the doctors. Even if they start feeling better, they should finish the doses.
In case you skip a dose or notice a change in condition, talk to your doctor.
If you don’t take the whole course, chances are more your infection could come back. Thus, you may require to get treatment again.
It has the ultimate anti-inflammatory properties, which are effective in relieving pain. You can apply ginger juice or strained oil around the ear and get relief. You should make sure not to put it directly into the ear.
Garlic is known for its pain-relieving and antibiotic properties. Crush a piece of garlic, soak it for a few minutes in warm olive oil, and apply the oil into the ear canal. Within a few minutes, you will get relief.
Neck exercises can be beneficial for relieving pressure in the ear canal, thus improving the condition. Here are the steps for neck rotation exercises-
- Sit straight up with feet flat on the ground
- Rotate your head and neck right to make the head parallel to the shoulder
- Rotate the head the other way
- Raise your shoulders and try to use them for covering your ears
- Make the movements slowly and relax
- Repeat the complete process
It’s a widely popular natural remedy for relieving earaches. Put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into the ear, and let it be for several minutes. Then, rinse the ear with clean water.
Taking fresh air can be helpful. Smokers should avoid smoking inside the house or anywhere near the patients.
There’s a wide range of online articles and videos saying onions can help in curing the earache. Onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Heat an onion at 450 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes. Then, squeeze it to make the juice, and put a few drops into the ear. Or, you can place a half-cut onion directly over the infected ear.
Change Your Sleep Position
Several sleep positions can aggravate pain. However, some positions may help in reducing pain. When you go to bed, make sure you keep the affected ear raised while the other one facing down towards the bed. This will help the ear drain better, thus improving your condition.
Another method is to sleep by keeping your head elevated to help the ear drain quickly. For this, you can use extra pillows.
Here are some of the methods of prevention of ear infection-
Prevent Common Colds
Wash your hands properly before and after eating food, and also teach your children to do so. When coughing and sneezing, use a handkerchief for covering the mouth and nose. Visiting a childcare setting may also help.
Smoke can affect your health. Always keep yourself away from smoke, and maintain a smoke-free environment at home as well.
Breastfeed your baby for at least six months as breast milk has antibodies, which are effective in preventing ear infections.
Seek Professional Help For Vaccinations
See a professional doctor, and have an open discussion regarding what’s right for your child’s health.
Get Prescription Online for Ear Infection
In this digital world, it has become easier to seek medical advice from a licensed doctor online. The process involves following simple steps-
- Fill out an online form
- Talk to a doctor online
- Payment authorization
- Get your treatment plan/prescription
Covering up, an ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection occurs in the middle ear. It can result in permanent damage to the middle ear. There can be various causes of ear infections such as sinus infections, colds, smoking, allergies, and excess mucus. For managing its symptoms, patients can try antibiotics, pain relief, drainage, and some natural remedies. As everyone’s condition is different so you should talk to a professional doctor to get the best ear infection treatment.