Ear symptoms: Ear infection (middle ear) – Symptoms and causes
Ear infection treatment: Do alternative therapies work?
Ear infection treatment: Do alternative therapies work?
Alternative ear infection treatments aren’t generally recommended for use in children — some have dangerous side effects or may interfere with conventional treatments.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Alternative ear infection treatments are common on the internet and in books and magazines. Examples include chiropractic adjustments, homeopathy and herbal eardrops.
You may be seeking alternative treatments for your or your child’s ear infection because you’re concerned about using antibiotics or your doctor has recommended watchful waiting. You may turn to alternative treatments to ease discomfort.
But in most cases, researchers haven’t adequately studied alternative ear infection treatments using widely accepted scientific methods. For this reason, doctors generally don’t recommend alternative ear infection treatments for use in children.
Some alternative ear infection treatments have been studied with mixed results.
Homeopathy. Homeopathy involves using highly watered-down preparations of natural substances, typically plants and minerals, to treat symptoms of an illness. This is a controversial treatment for ear infection.
Study results have been mixed, and it remains unclear whether this treatment is beneficial. Many such products aren’t well monitored.
Chiropractic treatment. This involves manipulating the body so that the skeleton is in alignment. Supporters of chiropractic treatment claim that certain manipulations can prevent or cure ear infections.
No long-term studies have proved the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for ear infections.
- Xylitol. Xylitol is found in many fruits and is used as a natural sweetener in chewing gum. In some studies, xylitol has been found to help prevent — but not treat — ear infections, but results are mixed. To be effective, xylitol needs to be taken in high doses. Common side effects include abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Probiotics. Certain strains of these “good” bacteria, which occur naturally in the body, may help prevent ear infections in infants and children. Studies have been done on oral probiotics and nasal sprays with mixed results. Probiotics generally are considered safe and aren’t known to cause side effects.
Other alternative ear infection treatments that show some possible effect include traditional Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture, and herbal eardrops. But more study is needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of alternative treatments.
Before your child uses an alternative ear infection treatment, be sure to:
- Learn about treatments. Understand your options and what’s involved. Find out what benefits their specialists claim the treatments provide and the potential risks or side effects.
- Find out the cost of treatment. Alternative therapies may not be covered by medical insurance.
- Assess the credentials of anyone who supports alternative medicine. Gather information from a variety of sources and carefully evaluate the information.
- Tell your doctor. It’s important for your doctor to know if you decide to use an alternative therapy. Some treatments — such as herbal supplements — may alter the effect of other therapies or medications. Others may create dangerous drug interactions.
March 24, 2020
- Marom T, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine treatment options for otitis media: A systematic review. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95:e2695. http://journals.lww.com/md-journal/Fulltext/2016/02090/Complementary_and_Alternative_Medicine_Treatment.44.aspx. Accessed Dec. 7, 2016.
- Children and the use of complementary health approaches. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/children. Accessed Dec. 7, 2016.
- Homeopathy: An introduction. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/homeopathy?nav=gsa. Accessed Dec. 7, 2016.
- Klein JO, et al. Acute otitis media in children: Prevention of recurrence. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 7, 2016.
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Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Treatment
What is an ear infection?
The commonly used term “ear infection” is known medically as acute otitis media or a sudden infection in the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum). Anyone can get an ear infection — children as well as adults — although ear infections are one of the most common reasons why young children visit healthcare providers.
In many cases, ear infections clear up on their own. Your healthcare provider may recommend a medication to relieve pain. If the ear infection has worsened or not improved, your healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic. In children younger than the age of two years, an antibiotic is usually needed for ear infections.
It’s important to see your healthcare provider to make sure the ear infection has healed or if you or your child has ongoing pain or discomfort. Hearing problems and other serious effects can occur with ongoing ear infections, frequent infections and when fluid builds up behind the eardrum.
Where is the middle ear?
The middle ear is behind the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and is also home to the delicate bones that aid in hearing. These bones (ossicles) are the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus) and stirrup (stapes). To provide the bigger picture, let’s look at the whole structure and function of the ear:
The ear structure and function
There are three main parts of the ear: outer, middle and inner.
- The outer ear is the outside external ear flap and the ear canal (external auditory canal).
- The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and the inner ear. The middle ear houses the delicate bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This is where ear infections occur.
- The inner ear contains the snail-shaped labyrinth that converts sound vibrations received from the middle ear to electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain.
Other nearby parts
- The eustachian tube regulates air pressure within the middle ear, connecting it to the upper part of the throat.
- Adenoids are small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids help fight infection caused by bacteria that enters through the mouth.
Who is most likely to get an ear infection (otitis media)?
Middle ear infection is the most common childhood illness (other than a cold). Ear infections occur most often in children who are between age 3 months and 3 years, and are common until age 8. Some 25% of all children will have repeated ear infections.
Adults can get ear infections too, but they don’t happen nearly as often as they do in children.
Risk factors for ear infections include:
- Age: Infants and young children (between 6 months of age and 2 years) are at greater risk for ear infections.
- Family history: The tendency to get ear infections can run in the family.
- Colds: Having colds often increases the chances of getting an ear infection.
- Allergies: Allergies cause inflammation (swelling) of the nasal passages and upper respiratory tract, which can enlarge the adenoids. Enlarged adenoids can block the eustachian tube, preventing ear fluids from draining. This leads to fluid buildup in the middle ear, causing pressure, pain and possible infection.
- Chronic illnesses: People with chronic (long-term) illnesses are more likely to develop ear infections, especially patients with immune deficiency and chronic respiratory disease, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma.
- Ethnicity: Native Americans and Hispanic children have more ear infections than other ethnic groups.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes an ear infection?
Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses. Many times, an ear infection begins after a cold or other respiratory infection. The bacteria or virus travel into the middle ear through the eustachian tube (there’s one in each ear). This tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. The bacteria or virus can also cause the eustachian tube to swell. This swelling can cause the tube to become blocked, which keeps normally produced fluids to build up in the middle ear instead of being able to be drained away.
Adding to the problem is that the eustachian tube is shorter and has less of a slope in children than in adults. This physical difference makes these tubes easier to become clogged and more difficult to drain. The trapped fluid can become infected by a virus or bacteria, causing pain.
Medical terminology and related conditions
Because your healthcare provider may use these terms, it’s important to have a basic understanding of them:
- Acute otitis media (middle ear infection): This is the ear infection just described above. A sudden ear infection, usually occurring with or shortly after cold or other respiratory infection. The bacteria or virus infect and trap fluid behind the eardrum, causing pain, swelling/bulging of the eardrum and results in the commonly used term “ear infection.” Ear infections can occur suddenly and go away in a few days (acute otitis media) or come back often and for long periods of time (chronic middle ear infections).
- Otitis media with effusion: This is a condition that can follow acute otitis media. The symptoms of acute otitis media disappear. There is no active infection but the fluid remains. The trapped fluid can cause temporary and mild hearing loss and also makes an ear infection more likely to occur. Another cause of this condition is a block in the eustachian tube not related to the ear infection.
- Chronic suppurative otitis media: This is a condition in which the ear infection won’t go away even with treatment. Over time, this can cause a hole to form in the eardrum.
What are the symptoms of otitis media (middle ear infection)?
Symptoms of ear infection include:
- Ear pain: This symptom is obvious in older children and adults. In infants too young to speak, look for signs of pain like rubbing or tugging ears, crying more than usual, trouble sleeping, acting fussy/irritable.
- Loss of appetite: This may be most noticeable in young children, especially during bottle feedings. Pressure in the middle ear changes as the child swallows, causing more pain and less desire to eat.
- Irritability: Any kind of continuing pain may cause irritability.
- Poor sleep: Pain may be worse when the child is lying down because the pressure in the ear may worsen.
- Fever: Ear infections can cause temperatures from 100° F (38 C) up to 104° F. Some 50% of children will have a fever with their ear infection.
- Drainage from the ear: Yellow, brown, or white fluid that is not earwax may seep from the ear. This may mean that the eardrum has ruptured (broken).
- Trouble hearing: Bones of the middle ear connect to the nerves that send electrical signals (as sound) to the brain. Fluid behind the eardrums slows down movement of these electrical signals through the inner ear bones.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is an ear infection diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will look at your or your child’s ear using an instrument called an otoscope. A healthy eardrum will be pinkish gray in color and translucent (clear). If infection is present, the eardrum may be inflamed, swollen or red.
Your healthcare provider may also check the fluid in the middle ear using a pneumatic otoscope, which blows a small amount of air at the eardrum. This should cause the eardrum to move back and forth. The eardrum will not move as easily if there is fluid inside the ear.
Another test, tympanometry, uses air pressure to check for fluid in the middle ear. This test doesn’t test hearing. If needed, your healthcare provider will order a hearing test, performed by an audiologist, to determine possible hearing loss if you or your child has had long lasting or frequent ear infections or fluid in the middle ears that is not draining.
Your healthcare provider will also check your throat and nasal passage and listen to your breathing with a stethoscope for signs of upper respiratory infections.
Management and Treatment
How is an ear infection treated?
Treatment of ear infections depends on age, severity of the infection, the nature of the infection (is the infection a first-time infection, ongoing infection or repeating infection) and if fluid remains in the middle ear for a long period of time.
Your healthcare provider will recommend medications to relieve you or your child’s pain and fever. If the ear infection is mild, depending on the age of the child, your healthcare provider may choose to wait a few days to see if the infection goes away on its own before prescribing an antibiotic.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacteria are thought to be the cause of the ear infection. Your healthcare provider may want to wait up to three days before prescribing antibiotics to see if a mild infection clears up on its own when the child is older. If your or your child’s ear infection is severe, antibiotics might be started right away.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended when to prescribe antibiotics and when to consider waiting before prescribing based on your child’s age, severity of their infection, and your child’s temperature. Their recommendations are shown in the table below.
American Academy of Pediatrics Treatment Guide for Acute Otitis Media (AOM)
|Child’s Age||Severity of AOM /
|6 months and older;
in one or both ears
|Moderate to severe for at least 48 hours or temp of 102. 2° F or higher||Treat with antibiotic|
|6 months through 23 months;
in both ears
|Mild for < 48 hours and
temp < 102.2
|Treat with antibiotic|
|6 months to 23 months;
in one ear
|Mild for < 48 hours and
temp < 102.2° F
|Treat with antibiotic OR observe. If observe, start antibiotics if child worsens or doesn’t improve within 48 to 72 hours of start of symptoms|
|24 months or older;
in one or both ears
|Mild for < 48 hours and
temp < 102.2° F
|Treat with antibiotic OR observe. If observe, start antibiotics if child worsens or doesn’t improve within 48 to 72 hours of start of symptoms|
If your healthcare provider prescribes an antibiotic, take it exactly as instructed. You or your child will start feeling better a few days after starting treatment. Even if you feel better and when pain has gone away, don’t stop taking the medication until you were told to stop. The infection can come back if you don’t take all of the medication. If the antibiotic prescribed for your child is a liquid, be sure to use a measuring spoon designed for liquid medications to be sure that you give the right amount.
A hole or tear in your eardrum caused by a severe infection or an ongoing infection (chronic suppurative otitis media) is treated with antibiotic eardrops and sometimes by using a suctioning device to remove fluids. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions about what to do.
Over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) can help relieve earache or fever. Pain-relieving eardrops can also be prescribed. These medications usually start to lessen the pain within a couple hours. Your healthcare provider will recommend pain-relieving medications for you or your child and provide any additional instructions.
Never give aspirin to children. Aspirin can cause a life-threatening condition called Reye’s Syndrome.
Earaches tend to hurt more at bedtime. Using a warm compress on the outside of the ear may also help relieve pain. (This is not recommended for infants.)
Ear tubes (tympanostomy tubes)
Sometimes ear infections can be ongoing (chronic), frequently recurring or the fluid in the middle ear can even remain for months after the infection has cleared (otitis media with effusion). Most children will experience an ear infection by age 5 and some children may have frequent ear infections. Telltale signs of an ear infection in a child can include pain inside the ear, a sense of fullness in the ear, muffled hearing, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, crying, irritability and tugging at the ears (especially in very young children). If your child has experienced frequent ear infections (three ear infections in six months or four infections in a year), had ear infections that weren’t resolved with antibiotics, or experienced hearing loss from fluid buildup behind the eardrum, you may be a candidate for ear tubes. Ear tubes can provide immediate relief and are sometimes recommended for small children who are developing their speech and language skills. You may be referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for this outpatient surgical procedure, which is called a myringotomy with placement of tube. During the procedure, a small metal or plastic tube is inserted through a tiny incision (cut) in the eardrum. The tube lets air into the middle ear and allows fluid to drain. The procedure is very short — approximately 10 minutes — and there’s a low complication rate with this procedure. This tube usually stays in place from six to 12 months. It often falls out on its own, but it can also be removed by your doctor. The outer ear will need to be kept dry and free of dirty water, like lake water, until the hole in the eardrum heals completely and closes.
What are the harms of fluid buildup in your ears or repeated or ongoing ear infections?
Most ear infections don’t cause long-term problems, but when they do happen, complications can include:
- Loss of hearing: Some mild, temporary hearing loss (muffling/distortion of sound) usually occurs during an ear infection. Ongoing infections, infections that repeatedly occur, damage to internal structures in the ear from a buildup of fluid can cause more significant hearing loss.
- Delayed speech and language development: Children need to hear to learn language and develop speech. Muffled hearing for any length of time or loss of hearing can significantly delay or hamper development.
- Tear in the eardrum: A tear can develop in the eardrum from pressure from the long-lasting presence of fluid in the middle ear. About 5% to 10% of children with an ear infection develop a small tear in their eardrum. If the tear doesn’t heal on its own, surgery may be needed. If you have drainage/discharge from your ear, do not place anything into your ear canal. Doing so can be dangerous if there is an accident with the item touching the ear drum.
- Spread of the infection: Infection that doesn’t go away on its own, is untreated or is not fully resolved with treatment may spread beyond the ear. Infection can damage the nearby mastoid bone (bone behind the ear). On rare occasions, infection can spread to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meninges) and cause meningitis.
What can I do to prevent ear infections in myself and my child?
Here are some ways to reduce risk of ear infections in you or your child:
- Don’t smoke. Studies have shown that second-hand smoking increases the likelihood of ear infections. Be sure no one smokes in the house or car — especially when children are present — or at your day care facility.
- Control allergies. Inflammation and mucus caused by allergic reactions can block the eustachian tube and make ear infections more likely.
- Prevent colds. Reduce your child’s exposure to colds during the first year of life. Don’t share toys, foods, drinking cups or utensils. Wash your hands frequently. Most ear infections start with a cold. If possible, try to delay the use of large day care centers during the first year.
- Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeed your baby during the first 6 to 12 months of life. Antibodies in breast milk reduce the rate of ear infections.
- Bottle feed baby in upright angle. If you bottle feed, hold your baby in an upright angle (head higher than stomach). Feeding in the horizontal position can cause formula and other fluids to flow back into the eustachian tubes. Allowing an infant to hold his or her own bottle also can cause milk to drain into the middle ear. Weaning your baby from a bottle between nine and 12 months of age will help stop this problem.
- Watch for mouth breathing or snoring. Constant snoring or breathing through the mouth may be caused by large adenoids. These may contribute to ear infections. An exam by an otolaryngologist, and even surgery to remove the adenoids (adenoidectomy), may be necessary.
- Get vaccinations. Make sure your child’s immunizations are up to date, including yearly influenza vaccine (flu shot) for those 6 months and older. Ask your doctor about the pneumococcal, meningitis and other vaccines too. Preventing viral infections and other infections help prevent ear infections.
Outlook / Prognosis
What should I expect if I or my child has an ear infection?
Ear infections are common in children. Adults can get them too. Most ear infections are not serious. Your healthcare provider will recommend over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever. Pain relief may begin as soon as a few hours after taking the drug.
Your healthcare provider may wait a few days before prescribing an antibiotic. Many infections go away on their own without the need for antibiotics. If you or your child receives an antibiotic, you should start to see improvement within two to three days.
If you or your child has ongoing or frequent infections, or if fluid remains in the middle ear and puts hearing at risk, ear tubes may be surgically implanted in the eardrum to keep fluid draining from the eustachian tube as it normally should.
Never hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions.
When should I return to my healthcare provider for a follow-up visit?
Your healthcare provider will let you know when you need to return for a follow-up visit. At that visit, you or your child’s eardrum will be examined to be certain that the infection is going away. Your healthcare provider may also want to test you or your child’s hearing.
Follow-up exams are very important, especially if the infection has caused a hole in the eardrum.
When should I call the doctor about an ear infection?
Call your healthcare provider immediately if:
- You or your child develops a stiff neck.
- Your child acts sluggish, looks or acts very sick, or does not stop crying despite all efforts.
- Your child’s walk is not steady; he or she is physically very weak.
- You or your child’s ear pain is severe.
- You or your child has a fever over 104° F (40° C).
- Your child is showing signs of weakness in their face (look for a crooked smile).
- You see bloody or pus-filled fluid draining from the ear.
Call your healthcare provider during office hours if:
- The fever remains or comes back more than 48 hours after starting an antibiotic.
- Ear pain is not better after three days of taking an antibiotic.
- Ear pain is severe.
- You have any questions or concerns.
Why do children get many more ear infections than adults? Will my child always get ear infections?
Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections for these reasons:
- The eustachian tubes in young children are shorter and more horizontal. This shape encourages fluid to gather behind the eardrum.
- The immune system of children, which in the body’s infection-fighting system, is still developing.
- The adenoids in children are relatively larger than they are in adults. The adenoids are the small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. As they swell to fight infection, they may block the normal ear drainage from the eustachian tube into the throat. This blockage of fluid can lead to a middle ear infection.
Most children stop getting ear infections by age 8.
Do I need to cover my ears if I go outside with an ear infection?
No, you do not need to cover your ears if you go outside.
Can I swim if I have an ear infection?
Swimming is okay as long as you don’t have a tear (perforation) in your eardrum or have drainage coming out of your ear.
Can I travel by air or be in high altitudes if I have an ear infection?
Air travel or a trip to the mountains is safe, although temporary pain is possible during takeoff and landing when flying. Swallowing fluids, chewing on gum during descent, or having a child suck on a pacifier will help relieve discomfort during air travel.
Are ear infections contagious?
No, ear infections are not contagious.
When can my child return to normal daily activities?
Children can return to school or day care as soon as the fever is gone.
What are other causes of ear pain?
Other causes of ear pain include:
- A sore throat.
- Teeth coming in in a baby.
- An infection of the lining of the ear canal. This is also called “swimmer’s ear.”
- Pressure build up in the middle ear caused by allergies and colds.
Signs of Ear Problems: 15 Possible Causes
Your ear is divided into three sections: the outer ear (including the external ear and ear canal), the middle ear (including the eardrum, three tiny bones called ossicles, and the eustachian tube), and the inner ear. The eustachian tubes are responsible for equalizing air pressure in the middle ear and allowing fluid to drain from the middle ear to the throat. A variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions can lead to ear symptoms affecting different areas or structures of the ear.
Ear symptoms vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Typical ear symptoms include:
- Burning sensation in the ear
- Drainage of pus and blood from the ear canal followed by pain relief, which indicates that the eardrum has ruptured
- Hearing unusual sounds such as ringing
- Low-set ears (caused by genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome and Turner’s syndrome)
- Spot, sore or growth on the skin of the outer ear or ear canal
- Tugging or rubbing at the ear in infants and young children
Depending on the cause, ear symptoms can begin suddenly and disappear quickly, such as an earache due to a change in altitude. Ear symptoms can develop over time and occur along with additional symptoms that may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as hearing loss or rarely, a tumor. Ear symptoms may occur in both ears or only in one ear or a small part of the ear.
The most common cause of ear symptoms in children is a middle ear infection (otitis media). In adults, ear symptoms can result from infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy (skin cancer), other abnormal processes, and aging. Underlying conditions in another region of the body can lead to secondary or referred ear symptoms, such as disorders of the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and teeth.
Certain types of ear symptoms can indicate a serious medical condition, such as a serious infection, encephalitis, or malignant tumors, which can lead to loss of hearing and other complications.
Seek prompt medical care for undiagnosed or unexplained ear symptoms or if your ear symptoms get progressively worse or do not improve within 24 to 48 hours after treatment for the underlying cause.
Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, your child, or someone you are with, have ear symptoms after a head injury or ear symptoms along with excessive crying, dizziness, change in alertness, ear swelling, seizures, lethargy, or facial weakness.
Ear Infections (Otitis Media): Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis
Every parent knows the helpless feeling that comes from consoling a child with an ear infection (otitis media). Although many ear infections clear up on their own, some don’t. And some children get them all the time. Medtronic is committed to helping these kids receive safe, effective treatment.
In a typical ear infection, the middle ear (behind the eardrum) gets inflamed and fills with fluid. This is called otitis media.
Most short-term or acute ear infections usually go away on their own. If they keep coming back, they’re called recurrent. Recurrent ear infections can lead to fluid buildup in the middle ear that doesn’t clear up. When this happens, it is called a chronic or long-term ear infection.
An ear infection is usually caused by bacteria or viruses that get into the body through the nose and mouth. Places where a large number of children are together (daycare centers, for example) help germs to spread more easily. Respiratory infections, allergies, and air pollutants (such as secondhand cigarette smoke) can also lead to ear infections.
Babies and toddlers often start with pulling or scratching at the ear, along with hearing problems, fever, drainage from the ear, irritability, and vomiting.
In older children and adults, symptoms include earache, hearing problems, fullness or pressure in the ear, fever, drainage from the ear, dizziness and loss of balance, and nausea or vomiting.
Symptoms without pain or fever can also mean that there’s fluid in the ear and should be looked into.
Babies and toddlers are more at risk for ear infections because their ear and throat anatomy is not yet fully developed. They’re also at risk if they spend time in daycare centers around many other children.
Your doctor will perform a careful examination, get a history of symptoms, and do a few simple tests. He or she will want to find out how freely the eardrum can move, how well the Eustachian tube is functioning, if there is fluid in the middle ear, and if any hearing loss has occurred.
Irritability and ear rubbing in babies don’t necessarily mean there’s an infection or a serious ear problem. A complete examination and symptom history can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and possibly avoid the use of unnecessary antibiotics.
Middle Ear Infections (Otitis Media) (for Parents)
What Are Middle Ear Infections?
Ear infections happen when viruses or bacteria get into the middle ear, the space behind the eardrum. When a child has an ear infection (also called otitis media), the middle ear fills with pus (infected fluid). The pus pushes on the eardrum, which can be very painful.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of an Ear Infection?
Ear pain is the main sign of a middle ear infection. Kids also might have:
- a fever
- trouble eating, drinking, or sleeping. Chewing, sucking, and lying down can cause painful pressure changes in the middle ear.
Older kids can complain about ear pain, but a younger child might just tug at the ear or be fussy and cry more than usual.
If the pressure from the fluid buildup gets high enough, it can rupture the eardrum, with fluid draining from the ear. This is a common cause of ruptured eardrums in children. A child with a ruptured eardrum might feel dizzy or nauseated, and have ringing or buzzing in the ear.
How Do Ear Infections Happen?
A middle ear infection usually happens because of swelling in one or both of the eustachian tubes (which connect the middle ear to the back of the throat). The tubes let mucus drain from the middle ear into the throat.
A cold, throat infection, acid reflux, or allergies can make the eustachian tubes swell. This blocks the mucus from draining. Then,
bacteriagrow in the mucus and make pus, which builds up in the middle ear.
When doctors refer to an ear infection, they usually mean otitis media rather than swimmer’s ear (or otitis externa). Otitis media with effusion is when noninfected fluid builds up in the ear. It might not cause symptoms, but in some kids, the fluid creates a sensation of ear fullness or “popping.”
Why Do Kids Get Ear Infections?
Kids (especially in the first 2 to 4 years of life) get ear infections more than adults do for several reasons:
- Their shorter, more horizontal eustachian tubes let bacteria and viruses find their way into the middle ear more easily. The tubes are also narrower, so more likely to get blocked.
- Their adenoids, gland-like structures at the back of the throat, are larger and can interfere with the opening of the eustachian tubes.
Other things that can put kids at risk include secondhand smoke, bottle-feeding, and being around other kids in childcare. Ear infections are more common in boys than girls.
Ear infections are not contagious, but the colds that sometimes cause them can be. Infections are common during winter weather, when many people get upper respiratory tract infections or colds (a child with an ear infection also might have cold symptoms, like a runny or stuffy nose or a cough).
How Long Do Ear Infections Last?
Middle ear infections often go away on their own within 2 or 3 days, even without any specific treatment.
In some cases, an infection can last longer (with fluid in the middle ear for 6 weeks or longer), even after antibiotic treatment.
How Are Ear Infections Diagnosed?
Doctors will do a physical exam and examine the ear. They use an otoscope, a small instrument similar to a flashlight, to see the eardrum.
How Are Ear Infections Treated?
To treat an ear infection, health care providers consider many things, including:
- the type and severity of the ear infection
- how often the child has ear infections
- how long this infection has lasted
- the child’s age and any risk factors
- whether the infection affects hearing
The type of otitis affects treatment options. Not all kinds need to be treated with antibiotics. Because most ear infections can clear on their own, many doctors take a “wait-and-see” approach. Kids will get medicine for pain relief without antibiotics for a few days to see if the infection gets better.
Antibiotics aren’t routinely prescribed because they:
- won’t help an infection caused by a virus
- won’t get rid of middle ear fluid
- can cause side effects
- usually don’t relieve pain in the first 24 hours and have only a minimal effect after that
Also, overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are much harder to treat.
If a doctor does prescribe antibiotics, a 10-day course is usually recommended. Kids age 6 and older who don’t have a severe infection might take a shortened course for 5 to 7 days.
Some children, such as those with recurrent infections and those with lasting hearing loss or speech delay, may need ear tube surgery. An ear, nose, and throat doctor will surgically insert tubes (called tympanostomy tubes) that let fluid drain from the middle ear. This helps equalize the pressure in the ear.
When Else Are Antibiotics Needed?
Antibiotics can be the right treatment for kids who get a lot of ear infections. Their doctors might prescribe daily antibiotics to help prevent future infections. And younger children or those with more severe illness may need antibiotics right from the start.
The “wait-and-see” approach also might not apply to children with other concerns, such as cleft palate, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, or other illnesses such as immune system disorders.
How Can I Help My Child Feel Better?
With or without antibiotic treatment, you can help to ease discomfort by giving your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and fever as needed. Your doctor also may recommend using pain-relieving ear drops as long as the eardrum isn’t ruptured.
Can Ear Infections Affect Hearing?
Fluid buildup in the middle ear also blocks sound, which can lead to temporary hearing problems. Kids having a problem might:
- not respond to soft sounds
- need to turn up the TV or radio
- talk louder
- seem inattentive at school
In kids who have otitis media with effusion, the fluid behind the eardrum can block sound, so mild temporary hearing loss can happen, but might not be obvious.
A child whose eardrum has ruptured might have ringing or buzzing in the ear and not hear as well as usual.
Can Ear Infections Be Prevented?
Some lifestyle choices can help protect kids from ear infections:
- Breastfeed infants for at least 6 months to help to prevent the development of early episodes of ear infections. If a baby is bottle-fed, hold the baby at an angle instead of lying the child down with the bottle.
- Prevent exposure to secondhand smoke, which can increase the number and severity of ear infections.
- Parents and kids should wash their hands well and often. This is one of the most important ways to stop the spread of germs that can cause colds and, therefore, ear infections.
- Keep children’s immunizations up to date because certain vaccines can help prevent ear infections.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Very rarely, ear infections that don’t go away or severe repeated middle ear infections can lead to complications. So kids with an earache or a sense of fullness in the ear, especially when combined with fever, should be seen by their doctors if they aren’t getting better after a couple of days.
Other things can cause earaches, such as teething, a foreign object in the ear, or hard earwax. Your doctor can find the cause of your child’s discomfort and treat it.
What is ear cancer? | Ear cancer
Cancer of the ear is a rare cancer. Most of these cancers start in the skin of the outer ear. Between 5 and 10 out of 100 skin cancers (5 – 10%) develop on the ear.
Those that develop inside the ear are very rare. Less than 1 in every million people in the UK will develop cancer in the middle ear each year.
There are 3 parts to the ear:
- the outer ear
- the middle ear
- the inner ear
Another important part is the bone that surrounds and protects the ear (the temporal bone).
The ear canal
The ear canal is the passage running from the outer ear to the middle ear. It is also called the meatus.
The ear canal is actually part of the outer ear. But it is included in this section about middle and inner ear cancer. This is because the stages, symptoms, and treatment of ear canal cancer are different to cancer of the outer ear.
The middle ear
The middle ear is a small cavity which contains 3 small bones. These pass on the vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear.
The inner ear
The inner ear is filled with fluid. It also contains a small spiral tube called the cochlea.
The cochlea has lots of tiny hair-like nerves on it. It converts the vibrations from the middle ear into nerve impulses which then travel to the brain.
The inner ear also has a number of fluid filled cavities which help us to balance.
The bone that surrounds the ear is called the temporal bone. The ear canal, middle ear and inner ear are all within the temporal bone. The temporal bone is part of the skull above the ear.
One part of the temporal bone is called the mastoid bone. It is the lumpy bit you can feel behind your ear.
The outside of the mastoid bone is a hard solid bone but inside is bone that is shaped like honeycomb.
There is air inside the small cavities. They also contain the inner ear and the nerves that control the movement of the face and tongue.
What are the causes of ear cancer?
The cause of ear cancer is largely unknown.
People with a history of chronic ear infections have a higher risk of developing cancer in the middle ear. Chronic means for 10 years or more.
What are the symptoms of ear cancer?
The symptoms of ear cancer depend on where the tumour is within the ear.
Symptoms can include:
- discharge from the ear
- loss of hearing
- a lump in the ear canal
- weakness in your face
The most common symptom is a discharge from the ear which may be blood stained. Other symptoms include:
- hearing loss
- you cannot move your face on the side of the affected ear
- hearing loss
- tinnitus (noises, such a ringing, heard in the ear)
Some people with ear cancer might also have swollen lymph nodes in their neck.
What tests can diagnose ear cancer?
Your doctor will examine you and you might have blood tests to check your general health.
The only way to confirm a diagnosis of cancer is to take a small amount of tissue (biopsy) from the abnormal area of the ear. A specialist doctor (pathologist) then examines this under a microscope.
Before your doctor takes the biopsy, you usually have a local anaesthetic to numb the area so you don’t have any pain. Biopsies of the middle ear can be difficult to take. So in this situation, you might have a general anaesthetic instead.
You might have an MRI scan or a CT scan if the biopsy shows you have cancer. This helps your doctor decide which treatment you need. Occasionally people have scans before a biopsy.
Doctors do not take biopsies of the inner ear. This is because it is very difficult to reach without causing problems to other structures around it. Your doctor will make a diagnosis using MRI scans and CT scans.
What are types of ear cancer are there?
The most common type of ear cancer is squamous cell cancer. Other types of cancer of the ear canal, middle or inner ear include:
- basal cell cancer
- adenoid cystic
The stage tells you how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Developing a staging system is difficult when there are not many people with the cancer. There are different staging systems for cancer of the ear. Working out the stage of the cancer helps your doctor to decide about treatment.
Generally an early stage cancer is small and within the area it started in. One that is slightly more advanced has grown into the surrounding structures.
A secondary or metastatic cancer has spread to another part of the body from where it started.
For cancers of the ear canal and middle ear doctors can use the TNM staging system.
- T describes the size of the tumour
- N describes whether there are any cancer cells in the lymph nodes
- M describes whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body
The T staging for the ear canal and the middle ear is:
- T1 – the tumour is just in the middle ear and is not causing any numbness of the face and is not in the nearby bone
- T2 – the tumour has grown outside the area and is causing numbness or is affecting the bone
- T3 – the tumour has grown into the nearby salivary gland (parotid gland) or the base of the skull or the joint of the jaw
Treatment includes surgery, radiotherapy and sometimes chemotherapy
Ear Infection Symptoms – HealthyChildren.org
What are the symptoms of an ear infection?
Your child may have many symptoms during an ear infection. Talk with your pediatrician about the best way to treat your child’s symptoms.
- Pain. The most common symptom of an ear infection is pain. Older children can tell you that their ears hurt. Younger children may only seem irritable and cry. You may notice this more during feedings because sucking and swallowing may cause painful pressure changes in the middle ear.
- Loss of appetite. Your child may have less of an appetite because of the ear pain.
- Trouble sleeping. Your child may have trouble sleeping because of the ear pain.
- Fever. Your child may have a temperature ranging from 100°F (normal) to 104°F.
- Ear drainage. You might notice yellow or white fluid, possibly blood-tinged, draining from your child’s ear. The fluid may have a foul odor and will look different from normal earwax (which is orange-yellow or reddish-brown). Pain and pressure often decrease after this drainage begins, but this doesn’t always mean that the infection is going away. If this happens it’s not an emergency, but your child will need to see your pediatrician.
- Trouble hearing. During and after an ear infection, your child may have trouble hearing for several weeks. This occurs because the fluid behind the eardrum gets in the way of sound transmission. This is usually temporary and clears up after the fluid from the middle ear drains away.
Important: Your doctor cannot diagnose an ear infection over the phone; your child’s eardrum must be examined by your doctor to confirm fluid buildup and signs of inflammation.
Other causes of ear pain
There are other reasons why your child’s ears may hurt besides an ear infection. The following can cause ear pain:
- An infection of the skin of the ear canal, often called “swimmer’s ear”
- Reduced pressure in the middle ear from colds or allergies
- A sore throat
- Teething or sore gums
- Inflammation of the eardrum alone during a cold (without fluid buildup)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Otitis media of the middle ear symptoms in a child and an adult
Pain, itching, a feeling of fullness in the ear – all these are signs that may indicate the development of otitis media. Despite its prevalence, the disease is very insidious. With a frivolous attitude, it can end with hearing loss, meningitis, and a whole bunch of not the most pleasant sores. How to protect your ears from otitis media, and why you shouldn’t fight the problem alone?
The human ear consists of three sections: outer, middle and inner.In any of them, inflammation can occur, which doctors call “otitis media”. The symptoms of the three types of ailment differ slightly.
- Otitis externa affects the ear canal up to the tympanic membrane. The disease begins with itching, then ear pain and fever are added. The auricle turns red and swells. Often the pain radiates to the temples and eyes, so that the patient does not even immediately understand what exactly is causing him inconvenience. Such otitis media is equally common in children and adults.
- With otitis media, the space behind the eardrum becomes inflamed. Ear pain increases gradually, accompanied by weakness, hearing loss and fever. If you do not start treatment on time, pus is formed, which “bursts” the ear cavity from the inside. As a rule, purulent otitis media ends with a breakthrough of the tympanic membrane – the accumulated fluid flows out and the pain abruptly subsides. Children are more susceptible to the disease.
- The main symptom of internal otitis media is dizziness and hearing loss.Sometimes nausea, vomiting, loss of balance are observed.
Any form of ailment can be acute or chronic. In the first case, the disease rarely lasts longer than three weeks, in the second, it drags on for months.
Who’s to Blame
Microbes are becoming the main instigators of otitis media. Inhabiting the mucous membranes, they cause swelling and inflammation. The introduction of infection is facilitated by a lot of factors:
- Subcooling . Sharp temperature changes lead to a weakening of the body’s defenses, making it more vulnerable to pests.
- Diseases of the nose, nasopharynx, paranasal sinuses . The path from these places to the ear cavity is very short, and it costs nothing for microbes to overcome it. This explains why otitis media in adults and children are frequent companions of colds.
- Influenza, measles, mumps and other severe viral infections . In these diseases, viruses are delivered to the ear canal through the vessels along with the blood.
- Anatomical features of the middle ear .Frequent otitis media in children is due to the special structure of the auditory tube, which connects the middle ear cavity with the nasopharynx. The fact is that they have it shorter and wider than that of adults. It is easier for microbes to “leak” through it.
- Congenital anomalies (cleft lip, cleft palate), adenoid growths . Defects of the ENT organs disrupt air exchange between the nasopharynx and the middle ear cavity, creating favorable conditions for the reproduction of pathogenic flora.
- Mechanical damage .The development of the disease is facilitated by diligent cleaning of the ears with matches, after which small abrasions remain in the ear canal. In a child, otitis media can occur when a foreign body gets into the ear: beads, designer parts, pieces of paper.
In some cases, the appearance of otitis media provoke allergic reactions.
Self-medication of otitis media excluded
Having arisen in one part of the ear, inflammation can quickly spread to adjacent parts or, even worse, spread to the lining of the brain.The latter situation is fraught with the development of a formidable complication – meningitis. Therefore, it is very important not to start the disease and see a doctor in time.
You should not choose antibiotics and any other medicines for yourself with otitis media. The use of certain drugs largely depends on the stage of the disease, which only an ENT specialist can establish.
Increased attention should be paid to the fight against acute otitis media in children. With improper treatment, the ailment can flow into a chronic form and will bother the patient for the rest of his life.
How to save ears from otitis media: a memo to the patient
- Use cotton buds with stoppers when cleaning your ears.
- After bathing and showering, dry your ears with a towel.
- Avoid hypothermia and respiratory infections.
- Treat chronic diseases of the nose and throat.
- Blow your nose correctly. Blow out each nostril in turn, pinching the other with your finger.
- Do not use nasal flushing devices unless advised by a physician.
- Stop smoking. Scientists have proven that inhalation of tobacco smoke increases the risk of ENT diseases tenfold.
If you notice symptoms of otitis media, do not postpone your visit to the otolaryngologist. You can consult an experienced specialist in our clinic. To make an appointment, call +7 (812) 565-49-46 or leave a request on the website.
90,000 Serous otitis media – treatment, signs and diagnosis of acute otitis media in children and adults
By Anna Makhova,
otorhinolaryngologist, doctor of the highest category
Serous otitis media is an inflammatory process that occurs in the middle ear, behind the eardrum.Fluid accumulates in the tympanic cavity. This is the so-called initial otitis media, which can later turn into purulent otitis media. Pus can escape through the eardrum, and the next stage of the disease will develop.
Serous otitis media is one of the most common ENT pathologies in children. Most often occurs in preschool age – up to 6-7 years.
Reasons for the development of the disease
The main reason for the development of serous otitis media is a runny nose, which can be associated with both the presence of a viral infection and with adenoids (in children).Since the hearing organs are directly connected to the nasopharynx, the Eustachian tube (which connects the middle ear cavity to the pharynx) with a cold can overflow with mucous secretions and stop performing its functions. In this case, the fluid accumulates in the middle ear cavity, cannot escape naturally and becomes the cause of inflammation.
Another reason is the pathology of the Eustachian tube itself. Disturbances in the passage of air in the Eustachian tube are often accompanied by the development and reproduction of pathogenic microflora.
Signs of serous otitis media
Congestion or pain in the ear.
Serous otitis media in children develops rather acutely and quickly. This usually happens at night, the child cries, points to the sore ear. Such symptoms are a reason for an immediate appeal to a pediatrician or otorhinolaryngologist.
Can I start using ear drops on my own?
If a child has an ear ache, and nothing comes out of it, you can drop drops with an analgesic and anesthetic effect.But it is better to show the child to the doctor as soon as possible. If necessary, you can give pain relievers – Ibuprofen or Paracetamol.
What not to do with serous otitis media
In case of serous otitis media, it is impossible to warm up the ear (with blue lamps, boiled eggs, etc.), to make compresses. Warming up can be effective only at the initial stage, up to 1 day, but this stage is rarely caught.
What happens with serous otitis media: stages of development of the disease
Initial stage.Not accompanied by symptoms. The patency of the auditory (Eustachian) tube is impaired. In children, it is asymptomatic, the second stage, acute pain, is immediately diagnosed.
Second stage. In 4-7 days. There is a congestion in the ear, pain.
Third stage. Fluid appears behind the eardrum. It begins to press harder on the membrane and cause more pronounced pain.
Fourth stage.If no treatment is prescribed, the fluid can pass into pus, which has a more pronounced inflammatory effect. Children sometimes have intracranial complications such as meningitis, brain abscess.
Serous otitis media can be diagnosed by a general practitioner, pediatrician, otorhinolaryngologist when viewed with an otoscopy.
ENT doctors perform tympanometry – measurement of pressure behind the tympanic membrane. The patient hears a certain sound in the ear, and the doctor receives information about the presence of fluid in the middle ear cavity and about its nature, if any.Most often, this study is used in children. In adults, fluid is often visible on visual inspection.
Treatment of serous otitis media in children and adults
In children, the development of the disease proceeds very quickly, therefore, if pain occurs in the child’s ear, it is imperative to immediately see a doctor – pediatrician or otorhinolaryngologist.
Children under 1 year old with serous otitis media must be prescribed antibiotic therapy (antibiotics), regardless of whether there is intoxication, high fever, or abnormalities in the indicators of a clinical blood test.This is due to the peculiarities of the child’s anatomy, with the speed of the inflammatory process, which can go to another stage within an hour.
Otitis media in adults does not always require antibiotic therapy. Serous (catarrhal) otitis media in adults can be treated with ear and nasal drops. During the period of illness, flights are not recommended due to pressure drops, which can negatively affect the condition of the eardrum.
Depending on the stage of otitis media and the age of the patient, treatment can be conservative (medication) and surgical.
Drug treatment includes:
treatment of the nasopharynx, to relieve the auditory tube, relieve swelling;
local drops in the ear are sometimes prescribed;
if antibiotic therapy is prescribed, ear drops are usually no longer necessary;
can add gymnastics for the auditory tube, chewing gum, blowing, etc.d.
If the effectiveness of conservative treatment in a child is absent, namely, intoxication persists, pain syndrome, fluid remains in the ear, surgical treatment is used.
We can observe the presence of fluid in children and treat conservatively for 1-1.5 months. During this time, the fluid will not thicken and will not interfere with the movement of the ossicles in the ear.
The operation consists in puncturing the tympanic membrane under a microscope and installing a drainage – a shunt, a tube.They are silicone and allow fluid to drain out of the middle ear. The essence of the treatment is that air appears in the ear cavity, and the child does not have a hearing loss. The tubes are in the ear for different periods of time – from one month to a year, and even longer. Sometimes they fall out on their own when the inflammation goes away and the ear function is restored. Or we take them out after a while on our own.
To prevent the appearance of serous otitis media, you need to pay more attention to the nose.If an adult can tell in detail about his complaints – nasal congestion, problems with blowing his nose, then the child does not always succeed. Do not pressure rinse children ‘s nose, use saline to rinse and moisturize. Children must be taught to blow their nose, use aspirators less.
An article about what diseases of the ear and methods of treatment are
The human hearing system is a complex system and therefore very vulnerable to a large number of different problems.And since the ears are responsible not only for the perception of sounds, but also for the support of the vestibular apparatus, frequent cases of dizziness are a sign of problems with the inner ear, and in rare cases – drops in blood pressure.
There are a huge number of different ear diseases, among which there are 4 main categories:
If any discomfort in the ears appears, you should immediately consult a specialist, as this may be the first symptom of any dangerous disease, which is much easier to cure before the general condition worsens.
Traumatic ear diseases
The causes of diseases in this category are injuries to the auricle or the inner part of the ear. Injuries are divided into several types: mechanical, thermal, chemical, according to the degree of damage – into superficial and deep. Deep injuries differ from superficial ones in the degree of damage to the bones and cartilage of the hearing aid.
Damage to the auricle
Superficial damage to the auricle is the result of bruises, blows, cuts and light bites from insects and animals.In severe cases, damage to the auricle can lead to partial or complete detachment.
Injury of the tympanic membrane
Such damage occurs after a sharp change in pressure in the ear canal. The cause of such changes is the depressurization of the ear canal due to impact, fall, sudden immersion in water, decompression, and the eardrum can also be damaged due to trauma to the skull.
The causes of fungal diseases (otomycosis) are infectious pathogens that affect the inside of the hearing aid, which can affect people of all ages.
Reasons for the development of fungal diseases
The development of otomycosis can be triggered by damage to the ear canals. Fungal diseases can develop against the background of reduced immunity, since it is more difficult for a weakened body to resist infectious and inflammatory processes. Often there are cases of the development of such pathologies in people with diabetes mellitus.
Symptoms of fungal ear diseases
These symptoms may indicate the onset of inflammatory processes of fungal diseases, which can vary in intensity depending on the type of ear infection:
- groundless tinnitus
- severe and prolonged itching
- ear congestion
- liquid discharge from the external auditory canal
- Formation of corks and crusts
- discomfort in the ears
At the beginning of the course of treatment, the cause of the disease is established, after which the doctor concentrates his attention on the treatment of the disease: patients cleanse the outer part of the ear with cotton swabs and glycerin, and also prescribe a course of vitamins to improve immunity and metabolic processes in the body.
Non-inflammatory ear diseases
Most often, people suffer from these non-inflammatory type of ear diseases:
- Otosclerosis of the ear is a hereditary disease that causes lesions and changes in part of the ear bone. Most often, this disease is treated with surgery, otherwise the patient may lose up to 90% of hearing
- Meniere’s disease. Causes the accumulation of fluid in the inner ear, which adversely affects the hearing aid.It is worth paying attention to the sharply emerging attacks of nausea, tinnitus and dizziness, poor functioning of the vestibular apparatus – all these are symptoms of Meniere’s disease
- Neuritis of the vestibular cochlear nerve is a very severe pathology that can lead to hearing loss
How non-inflammatory processes are treated
There are several popular and high-tech methods for treating ear diseases in humans:
- laser treatment
- ultrasound treatment
- radio wave therapy
A professional with state-of-the-art equipment can cure almost any hearing aid condition and restore lost hearing.
Inflammatory diseases of the hearing aid
A common cause of chronic diseases is inflammation. Diseases to which they are characteristic:
- otitis externa
- otitis media
- otitis media
Otitis media is an extremely unpleasant disease in which an abscess or a purulent boil forms in the ear.These formations can cause pathological processes in the inner part of the ear. Similar inflammations appear after viral or infectious diseases.
Symptoms of otitis media:
- pain and itching in the ear canal (first symptoms)
- hearing loss
- suppuration and redness of the auricles
- high temperature
- with a purulent form of otitis media, purulent-bloody discharge appears.
For the treatment of otitis media use:
- disinfection of affected areas
- anti-inflammatory procedures
- rinsing the ear with furacilin or boric acid
- course of antibiotics
- warming compress
Fast and efficient treatment of ear diseases can save a person from complete hearing loss without complicated procedures. It is better not to neglect the first signs of these diseases and consult a doctor at the first symptoms.
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04 October 2021
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Show 10 reviews of 14,702 90,000 Otitis media: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment of otitis media
Otitis media is an inflammatory disease of the ear.Otitis media can occur as a complication of infectious diseases (flu, tonsillitis, measles and others), due to ear trauma (including barotrauma – when diving, air travel), against the background of chronic diseases of the nasopharynx.
Symptoms otitis media:
- Ear pain
- Feeling of ear congestion
- Hearing impairment
- High temperature
- Headache, dizziness
- Possible discharge from the ear
Distinguish between external, otitis media and inflammatory diseases of the inner ear .
Otitis externa – inflammation of the skin of the auricle and / or external auditory canal of the external ear. It can manifest itself as a furuncle of the outer ear (limited otitis externa), or as an inflammatory process of the entire outer ear up to the eardrum (diffuse otitis externa). It occurs when an infection gets in, after an ear injury and a violation of the integrity of the skin of the auditory canal (for example, when using cotton swabs), against the background of otitis media.
Otitis externa symptoms :
- pain in the ear (may increase with pressure or change in the position of the auricle)
- itching in the ear
- discharge from the ear
Otitis media – an inflammatory process in the middle ear (tympanic cavity, cells of the mastoid process of the temporal bone, auditory tube).Various pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, can become causative agents of otitis media. Risk factors for otitis media are chronic diseases of the nasopharynx and sinuses – they open the way for infection into the auditory tube. Distinguish between acute and chronic otitis media .
With acute otitis media , the mucous membrane of the middle ear swells and thickens, putting pressure on the nerves, which causes pain. Fluid accumulates in the ear cavity, this is manifested by congestion and noise in the ear.Then, a so-called perforation (punctate rupture) may appear in the tympanic membrane – through it, fluid comes out.
Symptoms of acute otitis media:
- Pain in the ear (different in shape and intensity – shooting, pulsating, pressing; worse when sneezing, etc.)
- Noise in the ear
- Ear congestion
- Hearing impairment
- High temperature
- On days 2-3 – discharge from the ear
Acute otitis media is dangerous with the possibility of complications – mastoiditis (inflammation of the process of the temporal bone), meningitis and others.With improper treatment, it easily becomes chronic. Chronic otitis media – inflammation of the mucous membrane of the middle ear, with the presence of a permanent perforation (hole) in the tympanic membrane, as well as with involvement of bone tissue in the inflammatory process.
The disease has symptoms similar to those of acute otitis media. Congestion, tinnitus, and hearing loss are especially common.
Inflammatory disease of the inner ear (labyrinthitis) – inflammatory disease of the inner ear.The disease is provoked by diseases of the middle ear, infection (viral or bacterial).
Symptoms of otitis media
- Ear congestion
- Noise in the ear
- Dizziness, unsteadiness when walking, nausea, vomiting.
Diagnosis of otitis media
Various studies and diagnostic tests can be used to diagnose otitis media, including:
- Otoscopy (instrumental examination of the external auditory canal and tympanic membrane)
- Otomicroscopy (examination of the ear using surgical optics)
- Audiometry (determination of hearing acuity by reaction to sounds of various frequencies)
- Tympanometry (study of the mobility of the tympanic membrane and middle ear)
- Laboratory diagnostics (blood test; Culture of purulent discharge on the microflora, etc.)e)
- Radiography, computed tomography
In order to choose the correct treatment, it is necessary to make the correct diagnosis – for each type of otitis media there are indications and contraindications for one or another treatment. It is very important to consult an otolaryngologist on time. The doctor will prescribe the treatment that will help avoid complications and the transition of diseases into a chronic form.
In the treatment of otitis media, especially in the early stages, predominantly conservative methods are used.This can be the appointment of drugs, ear treatment with special ointments and solutions, compresses, rinsing, ear drops. In most cases, vasoconstrictor nasal drops are prescribed in order to reduce the strain on the eardrum.
Surgical methods of treatment can be applied as needed – puncture of the tympanic membrane (paracentesis), removal of adhesions, tympanoplasty (restoration of the middle ear organs) and others.
90,000 Otosclerosis: symptoms, treatment, surgery
Hearing impairment can be a symptom of a variety of medical conditions.But if the hearing loss progresses for no apparent reason and is combined with tinnitus, otosclerosis should be excluded. What kind of pathology is this, how to treat it and is it possible to prevent it? Anatoly Viktorovich Semyonov, an otorhinolaryngologist, Clinic Expert, Irkutsk, told us.
– Anatoly Viktorovich, what is otosclerosis?
– This is a specific lesion of the middle and inner ear. In the middle ear, the auditory ossicles are located, thanks to which sound conduction is carried out.They are normally mobile. With otosclerosis, we observe either a violation of their mobility, or a disorder in the functioning of the sound-perceiving structures of the inner ear due to the formation of excess bone tissue.
– Who gets this disease? Are there any risk groups?
– According to statistics, otosclerosis is diagnosed in about 1% of the population. Moreover, the overwhelming majority (more than 70%) of those suffering from this pathology are young and middle-aged females.Usually, the onset of the pathological process occurs during a period of serious hormonal changes in the body (puberty, pregnancy, menopause, etc.).
– What are the causes of otosclerosis?
– Unfortunately, the causes of this pathological process have not yet been fully established. However, it is believed that frequent inflammatory diseases of the middle ear (otitis media), some metabolic pathologies, and Paget’s disease can lead to the development of otosclerosis.In addition, a factor of genetic predisposition is not excluded in the occurrence of otosclerosis, and the disease can be inherited from both the father and the mother.
– What forms of otosclerosis are isolated and how do they manifest?
– Depending on the area of damage and the location of foci of otosclerosis, there are three main forms of the disease.
Conductive otosclerosis is considered one of the simplest forms, as it only impairs the conduction of sound. This form is the most favorable in prognostic terms.With proper treatment, it is possible to temporarily restore hearing.
In the mixed form of otosclerosis, the ability to conduct sound also decreases, and sound perception is partially impaired. When treating this type of otosclerosis, hearing can only be partially restored.
If the cochlear capsule (structure of the inner ear) is involved in the pathological process, they talk about the cochlear form of the disease. At the same time, the ability to perceive sound is completely blocked. This is one of the most unfavorable forms of otosclerosis, practically not amenable to correction.
Otosclerosis progresses at different rates in different patients. With the slow development of pathology, hearing loss (from the beginning of the process to hearing loss of 3-4 degrees) lasts 8-10 years. With a fulminant course, on the contrary, hearing loss develops over several months due to the involvement of the anatomical formations of the inner ear in the process.
In addition to increasing hearing loss, patients with otosclerosis may complain of background noise in the ears, dizziness with a sharp turn of the head, nausea, and a feeling of congestion in the ear.It is characteristic that at the beginning of the development of pathology, the conduction of low-frequency sounds decreases, and high-frequency sounds are perceived more sharply. As otosclerosis progresses, patients cease to perceive high sound frequencies.
Aggravation of hearing loss often leads to the development of neurasthenic syndrome in patients – withdrawal, apathy, lethargy, sleep disturbance. Due to the fact that a person cannot fully interact with others, depression may develop.
– How to detect otosclerosis?
– Hearing loss is a symptom of a significant number of diseases.How to determine if it is otosclerosis? One of the main signs that allows one to suspect this pathology is the revealed bilateral conductive hearing loss against the background of normal patency of the auditory canals and the normal state of the tympanic membranes.
Evaluation of the patency of the ear canal is performed by examining the ear with an otoscope, and the mobility of the tympanic membranes – using tympanometry.
Samples with a tuning fork and audiometry for otosclerosis allow assessing hearing acuity, thresholds of bone and air conduction of sound waves, and acoustic reflexes.
An objective method of confirming the diagnosis is computed tomography of the temporal bones, which makes it possible to identify the location and prevalence of pathological foci.
– How is otosclerosis treated?
– There are conservative and surgical treatments. Conservative (non-surgical) treatment is indicated for patients with an active stage of otosclerosis, when it is possible to repeat the process of ossification of the structures of the middle and inner ear, as well as in the cochlear form.In this case, the goal of therapy is to slow down the activity of the process of hardening of bone formations and to prevent rapid hearing loss.
Surgery and hearing correction with hearing aids or prostheses for some forms of otosclerosis allow patients to hear normally for several years. Unfortunately, almost always over time, the pathological process progresses.
– Are there ways to prevent the development of otosclerosis?
– No.This is due to the fact that the causes and triggering mechanisms of the development of this disease are not fully understood.
It should be remembered that early detection of the disease is the key to its successful correction. Therefore, at the first signs of hearing impairment, I recommend that you immediately seek the advice of a specialist.
You can make an appointment with an otolaryngologist here
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Semyonov Anatoly Viktorovich
In 1999 graduated from the pediatric faculty of the Irkutsk State Medical University.
From 1999 to 2000 he passed an internship in the specialty “Otolaryngology” on the basis of the CSTO in Irkutsk in the department of otolaryngology.
In 2005, 2010 and 2014 he studied at the advanced courses in otolaryngology and otosurgery.
Otorhinolaryngologist at Clinic Expert Irkutsk. Accepts at the address: st. Kozhova 9A.
90,000 Human ear diseases: types, symptoms and treatment
Let’s cure ear diseases in the SANMEDEXPERT medical center!
In our clinic, an experienced otolaryngologist will diagnose ear diseases in order to prescribe an effective treatment program.
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In the SANMEDEXPERT clinic, a qualified otolaryngologist will carry out effective diagnostics and treatment of hearing organs. The human ear is a complex organ consisting of the auricle and the external auditory canal, which, in turn, consists of the middle and inner ear. There are many diseases of the ear that occur in children and adults and require timely treatment in order to avoid serious complications up to complete deafness.We will consider the most common of these pathologies.
Ear diseases can be inflammatory, non-inflammatory and fungal in nature. Also in medical practice, there are pathologies of the hearing organs that arise as a result of trauma. This or that disease can affect different parts of the ear.
Inflammatory ear diseases
The most common inflammatory ear disease is otitis media, which, depending on the location, can be external, middle or internal.The disease can be acute or chronic. It often becomes a complication of a previous infection. Pain is the main symptom of the disease. Also, the ailment may be accompanied by an itching sensation. If the inflammation affects the middle ear, the patient’s temperature rises, hearing decreases, and purulent discharge from the auricle may appear. Dizziness, intense shooting pain, significant hearing impairment become signs of the spread of the inflammatory process to the inner ear.
Labyrinthitis, an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the inner ear, also belongs to inflammatory ear diseases. Very often, pathology becomes a complication of untreated otitis media, and the disease can also occur as a result of craniocerebral trauma and infections. If the inflammatory process is localized in the area of the mucous membrane of the Eustachian tube, a diagnosis of “Eustachitis” is made. It usually develops as a complication of angina, sinusitis and other infectious diseases of the nasopharynx.
Furunculosis of the external ear is another common inflammatory disease.Its development is associated with inflammation of the hair follicle due to the penetration of staphylococcal infection.
Non-inflammatory ear diseases
Non-inflammatory ear diseases include otosclerosis, characterized by damage to the bone of the ear capsule and causing hearing loss. Also in this group is Meniere’s disease, manifested by tinnitus, dizziness, progressive hearing loss, accumulation of fluid in the inner ear. This fluid puts pressure on the cells responsible for the regulation of vestibular processes, which leads to severe dizziness.
One of the most common pathological conditions that often occur in children and adults is sulfuric plug – an accumulation of sulfur in the auricle. The disease can occur due to increased secretion of the sebaceous glands or increased viscosity of sulfur. Sometimes the cause of cerumen is the anatomical structure of the ear canal.
Fungal diseases of the ear
Occasionally pathogenic fungal flora can lead to ear diseases. It is worth noting that in most cases, fungal ear diseases (otomycosis) are severe, and in the absence of timely treatment, they can lead to sepsis.Fungal lesions often develop due to a violation of the integrity of the skin. The fungus can affect all parts of the human ear. The characteristic symptoms of otomycosis include severe itching, noise in the ear, pathological discharge from the auricle.
Diagnostics and treatment
Having carried out a detailed questioning of the patient for complaints, as well as an external examination to establish an accurate diagnosis, the specialist can prescribe the following examinations:
- palpation of the ear;
- research of hearing with tuning forks;
- speech hearing test;
- assessment of the patency of the auditory tubes;
- endoscopic examination;
- laboratory research.
Once the diagnosis is made, the doctor will develop an individualized treatment program that may include drug therapy, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery. As a rule, inflammatory ear diseases are treated with local or systemic antibiotics. Typically, patients are also prescribed rinsing, the use of applications and tampons with drugs.
Diseases of a fungal nature are treated after determining the specific type of pathogen.The doctor then prescribes the appropriate antifungal medication. As a rule, antihistamines are prescribed at the same time, since most mushrooms are highly allergenic. General strengthening therapy is also carried out to restore the body’s defenses.
Various therapeutic methods are used in our clinic for the treatment of non-inflammatory ear diseases. In some cases, surgical intervention may be required to radically improve the patient’s condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you need an Eustachian tube?
Answer: In the structure of the human ear, the Eustachian tube is endowed with an important drainage function, because it is through it that mucus is removed from the middle ear. Its patency can be impaired in the presence of inflammatory processes and any formations in the nasal cavity: polyps, adenoids, etc.
What is the tympanic membrane?
Answer: The eardrum is a special impermeable membrane that separates the outer and inner ear.The eardrum transmits sound vibrations to the inner ear and prevents foreign bodies from entering it.
Why are ear diseases more common in children than in adults?
Answer: In children, the auditory tube, located between the nasopharynx and the middle ear, is much wider and shorter than in adults. This makes it easier for the infection to enter. The most common inflammatory disease in childhood is otitis media.
Can an infection cause hearing loss?
Answer: Sometimes not cured in time otitis media can lead to deafness, as well as inflammatory processes in the auditory nerve and inner ear.