Similar to toothaches and canker sores, ear infections are one of those illnesses that affect little parts of your body yet deliver overwhelming pain and discomfort. Ear infections may interfere with your daily life, making you uncomfortable and preventing you from a good night’s sleep.
To avoid ear infections and maintain comfort in your day to day life, it is best to know more about them and what can cause them.
What Are Ear Infections?
Ear infections are infections caused by bacteria or viruses in the middle, sometimes outer, ears, specifically the parts just behind the eardrum. They are usually very painful as ear infections often result in inflammation or swelling and fluid buildup and may affect hearing.
Ear infections have the potential to cause permanent damage to the middle ear, which plays a very important part in our ability to perceive sound.
There are two types of ear infections; acute and chronic ear infection. Acute ear infections are extremely painful but are short in duration, and will usually clear up in a couple of days. On the other hand, chronic ear infections are not as painful but are characterized rather by their recurring nature.
Chronic ear infections are understood to be worse, as it increases the risk of damage to the middle and inner ears, possibly resulting in permanent hearing loss if left untreated.
What Are The Symptoms of Ear Infections?
A person suffering from an ear infection will feel an uncomfortable ache or pain inside their ear, pressure or a feeling that something is persistently pressing on the ear canal, hearing loss, and pus or a similar liquid expelling from the ear.
The symptoms may affect one or both ears and may come and go. Chronic ear infections will also be less pronounced than their acute counterpart.
What Causes Ear Infections?
In understanding what causes ear infections, you must first be acquainted with the Eustachian tubes:
The Eustachian tubes are small tubes that connect your ears to your nose and throat. It is designed to let air flow through your middle ears to keep it clean and well-ventilated. Blockage of that conduit will reduce the airflow and dampen the middle ears, consequently rendering it habitable for bacteria and viruses.
The blockage of the Eustachian tubes is usually brought about by allergies, as they cause your sinuses to swell up. Colds can also lead to inflammation of the sinuses and the lowered immunity will allow bacteria and viruses to multiply uncontrollably. Smoking is also one of the causes of ear infections because it irritates your upper airways. Your body will then react by producing more mucous, which can clog your Eustachian tubes.
Infected or swollen adenoids, which are the small tissues near your tonsils which help trap bacteria and viruses, may also lead to ear infections.
Ear infections are painful and uncomfortable, and will likely do irreversible damage to your hearing if not given proper care. Knowing the symptoms and the causes will help you be aware of its onset so you can get treatment before it does significant harm.
Maintaining proper hygiene with regards to your ears will minimize the risk of incurring ear infections, so you can live your life without its discomfort.