What Causes Ear Infections?

  1. Ear Infection

Though ear infections are often thought of as ailments that primarily impact children, ear infections can strike adults as well. Moreover, if left untreated, ear infections have the potential to precipitate discernible complications.

Ear Infection

This condition usually occurs when a virus or bacteria infiltrates bodily structures known as Eustachian tubes, which connects to your middle ear. As the pathogen multiplies, inflammation occurs and the canals become filled with fluid and mucous.

Possible Causes

Ear infections can be elicited by a variety of causes. Common underlying factors include nasal allergies, minor upper respiratory infections like the common cold, inflamed nasal sinuses and cigarette smoking. Other less common precipitators include rapid air pressure alterations like airplane travel or when engaging in actions like mountain climbing and swollen adenoids, which are collections of tissue adjacent to your tonsils.

Physical Manifestations

Ear infections may precipitate a host of symptoms. Arguably, the most common occurrence is pain or pressure inside the impacted ear. The intensity can vary from mild to severe depending upon the malady’s severity. Other common presentations include elevated body temperature, unusual discharge from the ear in question and sleeping difficulties. More severe infections could produce alarming manifestations like balance disturbances and, in some cases, hearing loss.

Diagnosis

Should a physician suspect the presence of an ear infection, they will examine your ear with a diagnostic tool known as an otoscope. Following initial treatment, your doctor might take a fluid sample to determine the specific pathogens causing the problem. Should the infection be severe and considering the ear’s proximity to vital regions like the brain, your doctor might order cautionary exams like Computerized Tomography, CT scans.

Potential Treatment Options

Specific treatments will depend upon the underlying cause. However, many ear infections can be treated using any number of common antibiotics. If the condition is precipitated by issues like allergies or cigarette smoke, avoiding such allergens or cessation might prevent further incidents. Mild cases often clear up on their own accord.

Complications

Should infections recur or moderate infections not receive immediate attention, you might be at risk for developing complications, such as ruptured ear drums, spread of infection to other bodily regions, speech problems and possibly temporary or even permanent hearing loss.

Contacting Us

If you are experiencing hearing loss, have any questions about ear infections or concerns about other hearing care issues, we encourage you to contact us. Our team of experienced professionals can perform a thorough hearing test and may be able to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.

Sources:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/earinfections.html
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/ear-infections