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An ear infection is a serious issue that requires prompt care to ensure the infection does not worsen or cause loss of hearing. Here at our urgent care facility, we have a quality staff that is well equipped to handle even the most complex cases of ear infection.
While in some cases you or your child can recover from an ear infection without any medical treatment, the only way to know if the condition is serious is to have a medical provider diagnose the condition. With a correct diagnosis, you can reduce any chance of the infection getting worse or suffering from any complications from the infection.
Ideally, prevention is the best way to handle an ear infection, but oftentimes ear infections happen regardless of how careful you are. Subsequently, it is important to accept the possibility of an ear infection and be ready in the event it does occur.
If you or your child suffer from an ear infection, be sure to come in for a visit and let our staff give a full examination to ensure the most precise treatment. By receiving the proper diagnosis and treatment, you can ensure proper healing, and you or your child can get back to living life pain-free.
An ear infection, often referred to as otitis media, is a bacterial or viral infection that takes places in the middle ear, causing pain and irritation to the individual suffering from the infection. The primary cause of the pain is due to a buildup of fluids and inflammation in the middle ear. While an ear infection can happen in adults, it occurs much more commonly in children.
Since ear infections occur in the middle ear which cannot be visualized without special equipment and most commonly affect children, ear infections can often be hard to notice and diagnose without medical assistance. Since ear infections are a serious concern that creates a significant amount of discomfort and pain in children, it is highly encouraged to seek a medical diagnosis and treatment in the event your child suffers from severe ear pain that hinders their ability to function in everyday life.
The severity of an ear infection varies and is different for each individual who suffers from it. While a more serious, chronic ear infection is likely to lead to placement of ear tubes and severe pain, a mild ear infection will cause irritability and pain. However, to diagnose the severity of an ear infection, a trained medical provider must look into the ear using specialized equipment. This equipment will allow the medical provider to see the tympanic membrane and diagnose the condition.
Although the exact cause of an ear infection is not always easy to pinpoint, ear infections most commonly occur as a result of the cold or flu. Infection in the middle ear area is known as otitis media. Inflammation can occur in the outer ear which is known as swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is caused by inflammation in the outer ear due to water that sits in the ear canal, after swimming.
Diagnosis of an ear infection does require medical assistance, but it is easy to treat and does not take long for most to make a full recovery.
The onset of an ear infection typically happens fairly quickly, which means there are not many warning signs. With that said, there are symptoms to watch for in order to be able to seek medical assistance in a timely manner and prevent the infection from worsening.
As mentioned, ear infections most commonly occur in children. Subsequently, it is essential to separate the symptoms of an ear infection in children from that of which are found with adults with an ear infection as they are generally different.
Here are the most common ear infection symptoms to look for in your son or daughter:
Along with these symptoms, it is important to watch for other common infection symptoms, such as a fever, excessive fatigue and loss of appetite. If your child shows any of the aforementioned systems, be sure to visit us and let us help your son or daughter on their path to a full recovery.
In adults, the symptoms may look slightly different. If you begin to exhibit any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider coming in for an official diagnosis: severe ear pain, headaches, reduced hearing, and ear drainage.
While it is far more uncommon for an adult to suffer from an ear infection, it is not unheard of for it to occur, especially for those who are active swimmers or are suffering from a cold or flu. In the event you feel as if you may have an ear infection, be sure to take the proper measures necessary to prevent the infection from worsening and causing you to significantly alter your daily life during the duration of the infection.
Although it can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose an ear infection, members of our staff here at our urgent care facility can often diagnose an ear infection easily by examining the symptoms that you are suffering from and taking a close look into your ear. In the event the diagnosis is not as easy to determine, there are several other resources that we can utilize to find out the exact cause of your ear pain.
In some instances, the diagnosis may require the use of a pneumatic otoscope, which allows us to look at the eardrum and passageway for any signs of an infection. The way it works is simple: a small puff of air will be released into your ear canal, and the movement involved by the eardrum should allow us to determine whether or not there is a buildup of fluid in the middle ear area.
If the root cause of the pain and discomfort can still not be determined through examination, there are various tests we can run in order to learn more, including acoustic reflectometry, tympanometry, and various hearing tests to determine if the condition is affecting your ability to hear clearly. After all testing and examination have been done, the official diagnosis should become very clear, and you can then begin proper treatment in order to rid yourself of the infection.
Lastly, it is important to note that there are several different types of diagnosis depending on the severity and exact location of the ear infection. The two main types of ear infections are acute otitis media and an otitis media with effusion. Both cause similar symptoms of ear pain but the main difference between the two, in essence, boils down to whether or not there is a clear sign of an infection (acute otitis media), or there is believed to be a build up of fluids without an infection (otitis media with effusion).
Not every cause of ear pain requires antibiotics. That being said, hearing is an important part of life and it is important to have a trained medical profession diagnose the cause of the ear pain. If the cause is an infection, there are several treatment methods available, and an ear infection is relatively easy to overcome with proper treatment.
First and foremost, the main way to treat an ear infection is the same way you would treat most other bacterial infections, which is by taking antibiotics. In most cases, an ear infection in a child that also has a fever is usually treated with antibiotic medication, especially if they are under the age of two. With that said, antibiotics are commonly used for many patients, regardless of age or additional symptoms. When taking antibiotics, be sure to take the entire recommended dosage even if the infection is gone and all of the symptoms have passed.
If the infection becomes chronic, ear tubes may be inserted to drain the remaining fluid from the middle ear. While this solution is invasive, ear tubes are safe and very effective in treating ear infections, especially those that are not able to be treated with antibiotics.
In the meantime, while waiting for the treatment, procedure, or medication to take effect, it is essential to be able to manage the symptoms. The best way to do so is to constantly provide relief to the irritated ear by placing a warm, damp washcloth over the ear, which often alleviates some of the pain. Also, be sure to ask about taking pain relief medication as the proper dosage can help alleviate the pain and reduce some of the swelling.
In the event you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, you may have an ear infection and might need medical assistance in order to properly treat the infection at its core. In order to ensure your ear infection does not become worse, be sure to consult with us and let us help you make a full, quick recovery.
At our urgent care facility, we have the staff and resources to deal with all of the various kinds of ear infections and can provide the care you need so you are not forced to miss more work than necessary, or your child is not forced to miss more school than what is needed.
Prevention of an ear infection is an important strategy. Prevention strategies include avoiding tobacco smoke, breastfeeding, avoiding high volume daycare settings, staying up-to-date on vaccines, and avoiding pacifiers and bottles. Unfortunately, there is only so much you can logically do to prevent you or your child from developing an ear infection, and it often happens suddenly without any warning signs. Subsequently, it can be helpful to have the proper plan in place to handle unexpected ear infections.
Ear infections can get worse if left untreated, so be safe and consult with us. By doing so, we can ensure you or your child understand the care they need and make a quick painless recovery so they can get to doing what they love in no time.
Q: How common are ear infections in children? How common are they in adults?
Q: My child’s ear infection is not responding well to the antibiotic treatment. What should we do now?
Q: Are there other treatment options for an ear infection other than antibiotics?
Q: What can be done to prevent future ear infections?
Q: At what point does an ear infection require medical assistance?
Q: What does it mean if I (or my child) experiences hearing loss because of the ear infection?
Acute ear infection
An infection to the air-filled space behind the eardrum, which is known as the middle ear. An acute ear infection usually has a fast onset and is caused by bacteria or a virus.
In terms of an ear infection, bacteria are a group of microorganisms that invade the body and reproduce rapidly, often causing illness in the form of an infection. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics.
Chronic ear infection
An ear infection that does not improve after two weeks of treatment or continually returns despite preventive measures. Medical assistance is usually needed to treat a chronic ear infection.
A substance found in the ear canal. Its natural purpose is to lubricate the ear and protect it from infections. However, too much buildup of earwax can cause more problems than it solves.
The ability to perceive sounds by detecting sound waves. Hearing can become much more difficult during a middle ear infection as the ear canal can become filled with fluid and cannot transmit the sound waves.
Inflammation and fluid
Inflammation is the swelling of tissue which can lead to pain. It is possible for an ear infection to be caused by inflammation of the outer ear (swimmer’s ear) and fluid buildup within the middle ear (otitis media).
Middle ear infection
Another name for an ear infection. This infection is caused by fluid within the middle ear.
a substance produced particularly while the body has an infection. In terms of an ear infection, mucus can block the eustachian tube and cause discomfort in individuals who suffer from an ear infection.
Another term for an ear infection. Otitis media refers to an infection in the middle ear that is caused by a virus or bacteria. Otitis media with effusion refers to a fluid and pressure within the middle ear infection caused by allergies or a resolving ear infection/otitis media.
A large part of the hearing system and the tympanic membrane forms the eardrum. During a middle ear infection, the tympanic membrane can swell and make it harder to hear.