Middle ear infections and swimmer’s ear are ailments otolaryngologists treat frequently. Common in both children and adults, otitis media and otitis externa can cause substantial discomfort and, if chronic, lead to hearing loss.
How do you know when to seek professional help for ear infections? Let’s look at ear infection basics and when medical treatment becomes necessary.
What Causes Ear Infections And What Are The Symptoms?
Viruses and bacteria cause ear infections. For instance, a child may develop otitis media due to the flu or a cold. Young children in particular develop middle ear infections easily because the eustachian tubes, which drain fluid from the ear to the throat, become inflamed and blocked. Microorganisms can accumulate behind the eardrum, resulting in a variety of symptoms.
These symptoms include:
- Fever (especially in young children)
- Balance issues
- Muffled hearing
- Disrupted sleep
Also caused by a variety of germs, swimmer’s ear stems from fluid in the outer ear canal. Its symptoms include:
- Redness and itching in the ear canal
- Swelling of the outer ear
- Low grade fever
- A sensation of fullness in the ear
- Muffled hearing
Getting Professional Ear Infection Treatment
Most ear infections clear on their own with simple palliative measures to provide relief at home. These include warm compresses to the affected ear, over the counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, and gently cleansing the outer ear.
However, some ear infections do not resolve on their own, and symptoms can persist. In fact, in the case of otitis media in children, symptoms recur so often that one infection runs into another. These chronic ear infections require oral antibiotics, and in the most persistent cases, more advanced treatments.
These procedures – outlined below – are highly successful, and they help many ear infection patients feel better and avoid long-term hearing loss.
Also called a tympanostomy, this quick ear surgery creates a path for fluid drainage from the ear. The otolaryngologist creates a tiny opening in the eardrum and inserts a very thin plastic tube. The tube equalizes pressure within the ear and averts the pressure of accumulated fluid.
Ear tubes, as they are commonly called, stay in place until they actually fall out on their own in 6 to 12 months. Some patients also undergo removal of the adenoids, the lymph tissue located behind the nostrils, to promote free breathing and less chance of infection.
Balloon eustachian tuboplasty can improve drainage of fluid from the ear by reducing the volume of tissue in the eustachian tube. The ENT doctor uses a local anesthetic to numb the nose and throat and then inserts a catheter and inflatable balloon.
Once the device is in the eustachian tube, the physician inflates it to compress the tissue. It’s a great treatment for people with numerous ear infections and do not want to pursue more invasive surgical procedures.
Ear Infection Treatments in Georgetown, Texas
For compassionate, skilled, and comprehensive ear, nose, and throat care, consult otolaryngologist Dr. Scott William Franklin and his team at Georgetown Ear, Nose, and Throat Center. We know we can help you with ear infections just as we have so many patients in central Texas.
To learn more about us, or to book a consultation, call (512) 869-0604. Or request your visit online.