Have you ever experienced pain inside the ear, difficulty hearing, and/or pressure in the ear? If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, then you’ve probably had an ear infection or known someone who has had one. Ear infections are extremely common, especially for children. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of factors that can contribute to someone getting an ear infection. Fortunately, though, there are also a variety of ways to treat them, whether it be the tried and true at-home methods, or if it’s medicine given to you by a medical professional. HealthCARE Express is here to give you the run-down of what causes ear infections and how you can treat one.
What Causes Ear Infections?
There are many different factors that can lead to someone getting an ear infection, but they are all typically caused by viruses or the bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae. Ear infections are also caused by the blockage of the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the throat. Those tubes help drain fluids from your middle ear and equalize air pressure within the ears. Some things that could cause the Eustachian tubes to be blocked include allergies, colds, sinus infections, excess mucus, smoking, and changes in air pressure. Children are more likely to get ear infections than adults, due to their short and narrow Eustachian tubes. Therefore, they are slower at draining fluid than fully developed adult tubes.
The most common symptoms of an ear infection in both adult and children are:
- mild pain
- discomfort in the ear
- a consistent feeling of pressure inside of the ear
- muffled hearing
- sore throat
- drainage from the ear
- rubbing or pulling at ears
- not reacting to certain sounds
- frequently losing balance
- increased fussiness
- loss of appetite
It is important to note that children are considered more at risk for getting an ear infection if they have experienced altitude changes, changes in temperature and humidity, have had exposure to cigarette smoke, or if they have recently had an ear infection or other illness.
How Do I Treat An Ear Infection?
If you have recurring ear infections that you leave untreated, you could be at risk of developing other health complications. Permanent hearing loss due to a ruptured eardrum is one of the risks. Mastoiditis, which is the infection of the bony air cells in the mastoid bone, located just behind the ear is another illness associated with recurring untreated ear infections. If the infection spreads to the protective outer layer of the brain and spinal cord, meningitis could develop. Children can experience a speech or language delay if their ear infections are left untreated. If your child has chronic ear infections, a medical professional might suggest ear tubes for them. Ear tubes are small tubes inserted into the child’s ear in order to allow fluids and pus to drain more freely, which will help reduce the amount of ear infections they experience.
However, let's not jump to conclusions. Mild ear infections can often be treated at home, so try to treat your suspected ear infection at home first!
Some easy home remedies and medications that you can try at home include:
- Apply a warm cloth to whichever ear is experiencing discomfort
- Take over the counter pain medication such as Ibuprofen or acetaminophen, AKA Tylenol
- Using over the counter or prescription ear drops is another way to ease the discomfort
- Tale Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), which is a decongestant that is commonly used to assist in the elimination of ear infection pains
- Avoid sleeping on the infected ear
If none of these steps help alleviate the pain you are experiencing, then you need to seek medical attention. You may need to be prescribed antibiotics if your infection is chronic.
Indicators that your ear infection is too severe for at home treatment include:
- Consist sharp ear pain
- High fever
- Major hearing loss
- Excessive fluid draining from the infected ear
How Can HealthCARE Express Help With An Ear Infection?
Healthcare Express is here for you in all of your medical troubles. Though illnesses like ear infections can often be treated at home, we don’t want you to hesitate to come to our urgent care with any bump, pain, or sickness. Seeking the advice of a medical professional can bring a sense of security that at-home treatment cannot. Visit our website for more information, give us a call today or come visit us at one of our 17 locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The services we provide will help you get over your ailment. Making sure our patients are always receiving the highest quality of care is our top priority.