Do you keep tugging your ear more frequently than usual because of the swelling and pain you are experiencing? Are you feeling restless due to an intense earache? Do you also experience sudden headache and notice foul smelling secretion from your ear? These symptoms can be due to an infection. Know how to treat and prevent it.
1 Ear infection
It may be due to a non-contagious viral or bacterial infection that affects the middle ear. It is very common in babies and very rarely in adults. Generally, cold or respiratory problems may lead to an ear infection.
2 Types of ear infection
Ear infections can be acute or chronic:
Acute ear infection: A short-term infection which can be very painful. Swelling, redness in ear, fluid-filled middle ear, and fever may be experienced.
Chronic ear infection: A stubborn and recurring infection which does not clear up easily and may cause permanent damage to the ear.
Symptoms suggesting that your child has an ear infection
Ear infection mostly affects children under the age of three. Bottle-feeding children while lying down will more likely to cause them an ear infection than if they are being breastfed because breast milk contains antibodies. Most of the time, children cannot explain the agony they suffer but the parents can check for the following symptoms:
- If the kid rubs or pulls the ear repeatedly.
- If the ear reddens.
- If the kid has fever with ear pain.
- If the kid is suffering from a throat infection or cold.
- If the kid cries continuously, refuses to eat, and gets irritated.
- If the kid is restless at night.
- If the kid suffers from vomiting or diarrhea.
- Consult your doctor as early as possible so they can prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection and painkillers to relieve the pain.
3 Tips to prevent your child from getting an ear infection
- Breastfeed your baby as it lowers the risk of ear infection.
- Have regular medical checkups.
- Keep your kid from catching a cold.
- Cultivate healthy habits such as encouraging them to clean their hands frequently.
- Keep a check on your kid’s allergies.
- Do not smoke in front of children. Research states that children exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of acquiring ear infections.
- Get your child vaccinated. Vaccination always helps and it is proven that children vaccinated against flu and meningitis are less likely to get an ear infection.
4 The following are symptoms of ear infection in adults
- Unbearable pain in the ear with or without mucus secretion.
- Redness or swelling of the ear.
- Blisters inside or outside the ear.
- Hearing a buzzing sound.
- Mild deafness or sensation of vague sounds.
5 Diagnosing an ear infection
The doctor may check the ear using an otoscope – a device which contains a light source and a magnifying lens. He may check if the patient’s ear has redness, swelling, blisters, or pus. He may also check if there are any deformed structures or tissue buildups. If a secretion is present, a sample of the fluid is tested.
6 Treatment of ear infections
- The doctor may suggest applying a warm cloth or warm bottle to the affected area to relax the nerves.
- To control the pain, ibuprofen is preferred.
- Saline water gargles and saline nose drops can be used to clear throat, nose, and ear congestion.
- Oral antibiotics may be prescribed by the doctor for ear discharge.
- Ear drops may also be given to clear the ear canal.
- Surgery may also be an option if the condition worsens. Rarely, it is suggested only after all tried medication fails.
The first 3 steps can be implemented without consulting a doctor if immediate medical service is unavailable. Those are safe and natural remedies without side effects. Do not put oil drops into the ears or do not rub it vigorously. This can worsen the condition and will take more time to heal. Be cautious with small children as they may pull and poke a finger in the ear which might hurt them.
7 Complications of an ear infection
Partial or total deafness: You may experience difficulty in hearing or you may hear unclear sounds if untreated.
Loss of balance: You may experience short-term vertigo and loss of balance.
Rupture of eardrum: Eardrum may rupture if the fluid continues to build up for a long time and the pressure causes the eardrum to perforate, creating a small hole in the middle ear.
Cholesteatoma and damaged middle ear bones: At times, the tissues in the ear can grow causing blockage in the middle ear and destruction of the surrounding bones of hearing which can lead to hearing loss. Surgery is necessary to treat the damage.
Few tips to remember:
- Be sure that your ear is clean and dry as moist ear helps bacteria to breed.
- Do not swim for a few days until the infection is clear.
- Wash your hair and head carefully.
- Try to increase zinc and vitamin C intake in your diet to help heal naturally.
Ear infection can be excruciating but you can manage pain at home and at the earliest stage. Medical advice is necessary if the pain persists. Few precautionary measures have to be taken while suffering from an ear infection. Commonly, ear infection affects children which can be prevented by getting them vaccinated.