Ear infections–both of the outer and middle ear–affect children and adults of all ages. Caused by bacteria and viruses, along with structural problems within the ear, nose, and throat, ear infections can be painful and cause many complications, such as hearing loss.
Here is a comprehensive guide to ear infection treatment from your friends at Georgetown Ear, Nose, and Throat Center.
The Causes of Ear Infections
While many children and adults suffer with the soreness and pain of swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, a more prevalent ear infection impacts the middle ear behind the eardrum. This infection is called otitis media.
Otitis media involves a build-up of fluid and mucous that originates in the eustachian tube at the side of the throat. When the eustachian tube is inflamed and constricted, fluid cannot drain from the ear, and infection results. The same microorganism that causes the flu often causes middle ear infections.
Swollen adenoids located behind the nose can contribute to otitis media. Adenoids are lymphoid tissue that, especially in children, can be the source of infection, nasal speech, and more.
Symptoms of Ear Infections
Otitis media can be very uncomfortable, especially for young children who cannot express themselves the way older kids and adults can. As such, the presenting symptoms of ear infection for babies and toddlers are:
- Fever of 100 degrees F or higher
- Tugging at the affected ear
- Poor appetite
- Not sleeping well
Older children and adults often talk about a feeling of fullness and pain in the ear, as well as headaches, poor balance, and hearing loss. Some people feel extremely nauseous and may vomit when suffering from a severe ear infection.
Thankfully, most ear infections clear spontaneously. However, if the symptoms persist beyond a few days, a consultation with the otolaryngologist is in order.
Treating Ear Infections
Your ear, nose, and throat specialist will review your symptoms and your medical history. They will look into the back of your throat with a light, and also examine your ear canals and ear drums with a lighted otoscope.
The ENT doctor may do acoustic reflectometry, an assessment of how much the eardrum vibrates in response to sound waves sent into the ear canal. Tympanograms measure the ear drum’s response to air pressure. These tests help the doctor determine possible ear damage resulting from severe or recurring ear infections.
Treatment plans for ear infections can include the following:
- Rest and hydration
- Warm compresses to the affected ear
- Pain medications, such as acetaminophen
- Antibiotic therapy
When ear infections are recurrent, the ENT specialist may recommend tympanostomy, or insertion of tiny drainage tubes into the ear drums to relieve pressure. This is a common and highly effective treatment for young children.
Other surgeries can include the removal of the adenoids and balloon dilation of the eustachian tubes. This dilation procedure removes no tissue but rather compresses swollen tissues to allow for proper drainage.
Effective Ear Infection Treatment in Georgetown, Texas
At Georgetown Ear, Nose, And Throat Center, Dr. Scott William Franklin provides superior care for acute and chronic ear infections. Learn how he could help you or your child feel better and have normal hearing.
Call our office today to arrange a consultation at (512) 869-0604, or request your visit online by filling out our secure form. We look forward to serving you soon.