Common Causes of Ear Infections
Ear infections are a common type of infection that can occur in both children and adults. You may experience an ear infection as an aching pain deep within the ear or an itch in your ear canal. While some ear infections clear up on their own, others may persist and cause damage or hearing loss. You should seek treatment if you have the symptoms of an ear infection to avoid any complications.
Types of Ear Infections
There are three types of ear infections: outer, middle, and inner. If you've ever gotten a swimmer's ear, you've experienced an outer ear infection, also known as otitis externa. This type of infection is usually caused by the water becoming trapped in the ear canal after showering or swimming. It can also occur when the ear canal's surface is damaged by a sharp object, like a fingernail or a Q-tip.
Middle Ear Infection
Bacteria grow in the damaged ear canal and cause pain, redness, and itching. While some outer ear infections resolve without treatment, others may spread to the middle or inner ear. Doctors treat otitis externa with antibiotic ear drops.
A middle ear infection, or otitis media, happens when a virus or bacterium gets trapped in the middle ear. Allergies, the flu, or a cold cause the Eustachian tubes to swell and clog, leading to fluid buildup behind the eardrum. Bacteria then infect the fluid, causing pain, fever, and drainage.
If left untreated, a middle ear infection can make the eardrum rupture or burst. Children are especially prone to middle ear infections due to the size and shape of their Eustachian tubes. If you suspect that you or your child have a middle ear infection, see a doctor promptly. A middle ear infection is treated with oral antibiotics. Pain can be relieved by using a heating pad on the affected ear.
Inner Ear Infection
Otitis interna, also known as an inner ear infection or labyrinthitis, affects the ear's innermost part. Inner ear infections are most commonly caused by a virus that inflames the inner ear structures that normally regulate balance and hearing. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and hearing loss.
Inner ear infections are less common than other types but more serious. If the cause is bacterial, they may be treated with a course of oral antibiotics. Viral infections can be relieved over time by the body's immune system and managed through home remedies.
Call Us Today
Prompt treatment for ear infections is essential to protect your hearing and balance. If you have symptoms of an ear infection, contact Beltone Chicago to set up an appointment today.