Signs of Ear Infection | Treatment & Prevention Options

Signs of Ear Infection | Treatment & Prevention Options
June 10, 2021 Amazing Hearing Singapore
three main types of ear infections

Content Overview

  • The main types of ear infections

  • What are the symptoms of ear infections?

  • Why is it common for children to get OME?

  • How can ear infections be prevented?

  • How can ear infections be treated?

  • Can ear infections lead to hearing loss?

Ear infections can cause serious discomfort, and even temporal hearing loss. Ear infection is mainly caused by a bacteria or virus in the middle ear. This infection can often be caused by an illness, such as cold, flu or allergy, which can cause a congestion and swelling of the nasal passages.

The main types of ear infections

  • Outer Ear (Otitis Externa):
    When water gets trapped in the ear canal and wax starts to build up.
    The bacteria present then start to cause inflammation.

 

  • Middle Ear (Otitis Media):
    Middle ear infection, also known as otitis media is the infection that happens in the middle ear – where the tubes are clogged.

 

  • Middle Ear (Otitis Media with Effusion (OME)):
    OME is fluid in the middle ear, but without an acute infection.
    Mucus and fluid will build up in the middle ear, and this build up creates a ‘fullness’ feeling in the ear that makes it difficult for the person to hear. OME will usually get better on its own.

The eustachian tubes – pair of tubes that run from the middle ear to the back of the throat (behind the nasal passages) can become swollen and blocked, which causes fluids to build up in the middle ear. The fluid can cause an infection and thus cause an ear infection. Children are likely to get their tubes clogged as their tubes are narrower, and it is more difficult to drain the fluids.

What are the symptoms of ear infections?

The common symptoms of outer ear infections are:

  • Ear pain
  • Discharge from the ear
  • A swollen ear canal
  • Dry skin (or even eczema) in or around ear canal
  • Reduced hearing (if swelling has caused a block in the ear canal)

The common symptoms of middle ear infections are:

  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Pus seen in the ear
  • Nauseas (at times)
  • Hearing difficulty

Why is it common for children to get OME?

It is not uncommon for young infants and children to get otitis media is mainly due to the nature of their eustachian tube. Their tube is more horizontal compared to adults, and thus it prevents fluid from flowing smoothly.

When the fluid does not flow smoothly in their tube, it makes mucus draining much more difficult. And because mucus gets stuck, it will build up and cause pain and pressure. This would then lead to infection.

But as the child grows older, the eustachian tube becomes more vertical and draining becomes much easier.

How can ear infections be prevented?

Limit the buildup of fluids in your ear canal:

  • Avoid smoking or receiving in second-hand smoke
  • Avoid using cotton buds to clean your ear – that will pack your wax to the back to your ear canal
  • If you have an ear infection, you should avoid letting moisture into your ears (take note of this when you bathe and avoid swimming!)
  • Expose light heat to your ear to ease the pain (blow your hairdryer into your ear with light heat)

Strengthen your immune system

  • Avoid consuming food that you know you are allergic to
  • Avoid consuming food that leads to excess mucus and fluid (e.g. chilli)
  • Follow a healthy diet such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.
  • Drink more clean and sterilised water
  • Consume food that are rich in essential fatty acids – like cold-water fish, flaxseed oil, etc. to reduce inflammation
  • Avoid being in environment exposed to allergens such as smoke, where bacteria thrive

How can ear infections be treated?

Treating Your Middle Ear:

It is common for the redness in your ear to last from two to three days and be healed in two to four weeks. Your doctor might recommend treatments such as: prescribed ear drops or antibiotics to clear up your ear infection. This helps to speed up the healing process significantly.

DIY Methods To Treat Your Middle Ear:

Drink more water to help your body to clear the infection naturally. You can consider home remedy like onion poultice as well. Note that home remedies can be helpful to aid in the healing process, but it is not a replacement for a doctor visit especially if the ear infection becomes serious.

 

Can ear infections lead to hearing loss?

Ear infection can definitely lead to hearing loss, but only temporary hearing loss. Because this is mostly due to the middle ear, all you need to do is to clear up the infection or fluid that is built up, which is preventing sound from going through your middle ear to your inner ear.

However, if the infection worsens and is not treated, it can lead to complications such as scar tissue on the eardrum (inner ear). If it worsens, it can lead to ruptured eardrums, which can cause more permanent hearing loss.

If you are unsure of your ear condition, it is advised that you consult an ENT specialist or a hearing aids Singapore specialist.

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