About 80% of children have at least one middle ear infection by the time they’re three years old. Ear infections appear less often in adults, and when they do, they’re often a red flag signaling a worrisome ear problem. Franklyn Gergits, DO, MS, at Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center provides comprehensive care for ear infections, helping to relieve your symptoms and prevent chronic infections or hearing loss. To schedule an appointment, call one of the offices in Fountain Hills or Scottsdale, Arizona, or use the online booking feature.
You can develop an infection in your outer, middle, or inner ear. Middle ear infections, called otitis media, are the most common. They primarily occur in children and seldom develop in adults.
An outer ear infection, also called swimmer’s ear, affects the ear canal that goes from outside your ear to the eardrum. Bacteria thrive when water stays in the canal, resulting in an infection and symptoms such as itching, redness, and a watery discharge.
An inner ear infection most often develops due to a virus that causes inflammation of the structures responsible for balance and hearing. As a result, you have symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo (sensation of spinning), nausea, tinnitus, and hearing loss.
Middle ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses get into the Eustachian tube. Since this tube runs from the back of your nose to your middle ear, it’s easy for an upper respiratory infection or allergy-related infection to spread into your ear.
After microorganisms get into the ear, the Eustachian tube becomes inflamed and swollen, trapping mucus and fluids in the middle ear.
In some children, the fluid remains in the ear after the infection heals. This causes a chronic infection that can damage the middle ear bones and lead to hearing loss if it goes untreated.
Severe pain is the primary symptom of a middle ear infection, although hearing may be diminished and excess fluid may drain from the ear, too. Young children with an ear infection often have a fever, cry more than usual, and have trouble sleeping.
Your treatment depends on the type of infection:
Inner ear infections are generally treated with one or more medications to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and fight the infection.
Dr. Gergits may recommend pain medication to keep your child comfortable, and then take a wait-and-see approach.
The symptoms generally improve in a few days, and most middle ear infections heal within two weeks. Giving the ear time to heal naturally avoids the need for antibiotics.
If fluids stay in the ear after the infection heals, Dr. Gergits may insert ear tubes. Ear tubes prevent future infections by ventilating the ear and allowing fluids to drain.
It’s important to get an outer ear infection treated promptly because this type of ear infection often progressively worsens.
Your treatment may include cleaning the ear canal and using ear drops to reduce inflammation, fight bacteria, and restore the ear’s normal antibacterial environment.
At the first sign of an ear infection, call Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center or book an appointment online.