Ear Infections

Also called: Otitis media

Ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. Adults can also get ear infections, but they are less common.

The infection usually affects the middle ear and is called otitis media. The tubes inside the ears become clogged with fluid and mucus. This can affect hearing, because sound cannot get through all that fluid.

If your child isn't old enough to say "My ear hurts," here are a few things to look for

  • Tugging at ears
  • Crying more than usual
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Balance difficulties
  • Hearing problems

Your health care provider will diagnose an ear infection by looking inside the ear with an instrument called an otoscope.

Often, ear infections go away on their own. Your health care provider may recommend pain relievers. Severe infections and infections in young babies may require antibiotics.

Children who get infections often may need surgery to place small tubes inside their ears. The tubes relieve pressure in the ears so that the child can hear again.

NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Symptoms of Ear Infections

The following features are indicative of Ear Infections:
  • ear pain
  • tugging or pulling at an ear
  • difficulty in sleeping
  • crying more than usual in children
  • difficulty hearing
  • loss of balance
  • fever of 100 F or higher
  • drainage of fluid from the ear
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
It is possible that Ear Infections shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Ear Infections

The following are the most common causes of Ear Infections:
  • streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria
  • haemophilus influenzae bacteria
  • moraxella catarrhalis bacteria
  • cold
  • flu

Risk Factors for Ear Infections

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Ear Infections:
  • children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years
  • babies who drink from a bottle
  • seasonal factors
  • exposure to tobacco smoke
  • exposure to high levels of air pollution

Prevention of Ear Infections

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Ear Infections. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • prevent common colds
  • teach children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly
  • avoid secondhand smoke
  • breast-feed to baby
  • vaccination for seasonal flu shots and pneumococcal infections

Occurrence of Ear Infections

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Ear Infections cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Ear Infections can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Ear Infections can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Ear Infections

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Ear Infections:
  • Pneumatic otoscope: To look in the ear and judge whether there is fluid behind the eardrum
  • Tympanometry: To measure the movement of the eardrum
  • Acoustic reflectometry: To measure how much sound emitted from a device is reflected back from the eardrum
  • Tympanocentesis: To drain fluid from the middle ear

Doctor for Diagnosis of Ear Infections

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Ear Infections:
  • Audiologist
  • Infectious Disease Specialist

Complications of Ear Infections if untreated

Yes, Ear Infections causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Ear Infections is left untreated:
  • impaired hearing
  • speech or developmental delays
  • tearing of the eardrum

Procedures for Treatment of Ear Infections

The following procedures are used to treat Ear Infections:
  • Myringotomy: To help ventilate the middle ear and prevent the accumulation of more fluids

Self-care for Ear Infections

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Ear Infections:
  • Prevent common colds and other illnesses: Help reduce the risk of developing ear infections
  • Avoid secondhand smoke: Help reduce the risk of developing ear infections

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Ear Infections

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Ear Infections:
  • Acupuncture: Helps bringing patient to normal condition
  • Phytotherapy: Helps treating otitis
  • Intake vitamin D supplements: Helps treating infections

Time for Treatment of Ear Infections

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Ear Infections to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Ear Infections.

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