Ear infections are common among children but can also affect adults. Being prepared to handle this type of infection is vital in order to prevent the condition from worsening. The middle ear and inner ear are typically affected by infection from other conditions and you should be familiar with the symptoms that will manifest. Most cases are usually minor and can heal without requiring treatment.
Middle ear infections (Otitis media)
The middle ear is the small region of the ear within the eardrum that is connected to the throat via a small tube. This part can become infected once bacteria from the throat and nose are trapped after blockage of the connecting tube, usually during a common cold. Proper assessment by a doctor is required to provide a diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment. Remember that middle ear infections are quite common among young children and typically manifest as ear pain with high fever that will cause a certain degree of discomfort. Proper treatment should be started to help ease the symptoms.
If a child is suspected with middle ear infection, the following symptoms are likely to occur.
- Earache that ranges from mild to severe
- Thick, yellowish discharge
- Plugged sensation in the ear accompanied by difficulty hearing
Most cases of ear infections typically go away without requiring treatment, but antibiotics or eardrops can be prescribed by the doctor, depending on the severity of the infection and the age of the child.
There are also over-the-counter pain medications that contain acetaminophen that can help as well as applying a warm cloth or heating pad on the affected ear and getting enough rest. Aspirin should not be given to those below 19 years old.
Take note that ear infections can lead to temporary difficulty with hearing. It is vital to seek medical care for hearing among young children since the ability to learn to talk can be affected by hearing.
Inner ear infections
Infection in the inner ear typically occurs due to viral conditions such as influenza. It can also cause vertigo, nausea, dizziness, tinnitus, imbalance, diminished hearing, difficulty concentrating and other symptoms. Take note that these symptoms can also be instigated by head injuries, allergies, drug reactions or aging. With this in mind, assessment by a doctor is required so that a diagnosis can be given and start the appropriate treatment.
In case the symptoms of an inner ear infection are caused by a virus, the infection typically improves on its own. Nevertheless, the doctor might recommend prescription or over-the-counter anti-nausea medications. In some cases, an injection is administered to manage the symptoms. If the symptoms tend to recur, it might indicate Meniere’s disease which is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the inner ear and leads to balance issues and vertigo.