Ear infections are one of the most common types of ear diseases and can affect the outer, middle or inner ear.
If you’ve had an ear infection, you will know just how painful they can be, and that is due to a build-up of fluid and inflammation in the middle ear. Ear infections can be acute, which are usually only short-term but very painful or chronic which can cause permanent damage to the middle ear and can either recur many times or don’t clear up.
There are several types of ear infection, including:
The small area behind your eardrum is considered your middle ear and this ear needs to be kept well ventilated at all times by the air that passes up through it from behind the nose and through the Eustachian tube. This helps to ensure your middle ear stays clean and dry. However, if one of the Eustachian tubes becomes inflamed or blocked, this can cause a build-up of fluid in the middle ear and create the ideal breeding ground for germs and ear infection to develop.
The eustachian tube can become blocked as a result of:
While infection in your ear can cause pain and discomfort, other ear infection symptoms can include:
These symptoms may come and go or you may have them constantly in either one or both ears. If you both of your ears are infected then the pain and discomfort will likely be significantly worse.
Most mild ear infections will clear up on their own without the need for ear infection treatment. However, there are things you can do to help relieve some of the discomforts of a mild ear infection:
If your symptoms don’t improve or they get worse, you should see your doctor. They may prescribe you antibiotics if your ear infection doesn’t seem to be getting any better. If your ear infection isn’t resolved with the usual medical treatments or if you experience several ear infections over a short time, your doctor may suggest surgery to drain the fluid.
While it is not possible to prevent all ear infections, there are steps you can take to help avoid future infections:
If you are concerned about your ears or think you may have an ear infection, schedule a consultation with your hearing care professional or doctor for an examination and treatment plan.
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