Middle Ear Infections
A middle ear infection, or otitis media, is a painful condition that occurs when viruses or bacterias infect the middle ear. This causes fluid build-up, inflammation, and severe pain. The infection can either be chronic or acute. If left untreated, the middle ear may become permanently damaged.
Middle ear infections are common among children but, can also affect adults. According to this study, 73% of kids will have middle ear infections before the age of 3.
The infection is prevalent in the early spring and winter. Most of the time, the infection goes away on its own without any treatment. However, if the symptoms persist, one should seek prompt medical attention.
Types of Middle Ear Infections
There are two types of middle ear infections: otitis media with effusion and acute otitis media.
Acute Otitis Media: This is when the infection is accompanied by redness and swelling around the eardrum. The mucous and fluid in the middle ear may cause pain, difficulty hearing, and fever.
Otitis Media with Effusion: This is when the fluid in the middle ear continues to build up even after the infection is gone. This can impair hearing.
Symptoms of Middle Ear Infections
Below are some symptoms associated with middle ear infections:
- Difficulty hearing
- Ear pain
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty sleeping
- Discharge emitting from the ear
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosis of Middle Ear Infections
To determine if a patient has a middle ear infection, a doctor will use an otoscope to inspect the ear and check for fluid build-up. The doctor may also use a pneumatic otoscope to see if there is an infection in the middle ear area. Below are a few other tests that can help diagnose the condition:
This test is done if an ear infection doesn’t go away on its own or isn’t responding to treatment. During the test, an expert will create a tiny opening in the eardrum and drain the fluid in the inner ear. The fluid will be collected and tested to find out what is causing the infection.
During this test, sounds are bounced against the eardrum to determine if there is fluid buildup in the ear. If the ear is healthy, it will absorb most of the sound. However, most of the sound waves will be reflected if it is infected.
Here, a device is used to seal off the ear and alter the pressure in the ear canal. Next, the device collects data on how the eardrum moves and the presence of fluid in the ear.
How to Treat Middle Ear Infections
To determine the best way to treat the condition, doctors will consider factors like the age, medical history, and general health of the patient. They may also consider the severity of the infection in the ear and the patient’s ability to tolerate antibiotics. If the patient is a child, the doctor may also consider the opinion of the parent.
Since middle ear infections usually go away on their own, a physician may only prescribe medications, like ibuprofen, to quell the pain and fever. However, if the symptoms linger for more than 3 days, the doctor will recommend antibiotics. Note that the antibiotics may not address the condition if the infection is caused by a virus.
How to Manage Middle Ear Infections
Garlic: Garlic is an excellent remedy for ear infections. It contains allicin, a compound that fights bacterial infections. Eating fresh garlic may help quell ear pain. Make sure you consult your doctor before eating garlic, especially if you are on any medication.
Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. This makes it perfect for treating ear infections. Before using it, you should take a skin test to check if you are allergic to it. To get the best results, you should mix tea tree oil with sweet almond oil and olive oil.
- How can I prevent middle ear infections in children? Below are a few things you can do to reduce the odds of your child having an ear infection:
- Wash your kid’s hands regularly
- Don’t expose your child to smoke/don’t allow them to spend time with people who smoke
- Breastfeed regularly (this will boost their immune system)
2. When should I see a doctor? You should seek prompt medical attention if the symptoms don’t improve after 3 days.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!