Middle Ear Infections

ear check

The ear is comprised of the inner ear, middle ear and outer ear. Infections most commonly occur in the ‘middle ear’, and they are termed ‘otitis media’.  During an infection of the middle ear, a blockage usually forms, forcing fluid to collect in previously empty areas of the ear. This may result in leakage, ruptures, as well as bacterial or viral infections. In many cases, treatment requires a ‘myringotomy’ to clear areas of fluid through inserting a tube into the eardrum. The signs and symptoms of this type of infection are given below, along with its causes and types of treatment. Otitis media often co-occurs with other illnesses, and is known to follow colds, flus and sicknesses affecting the respiratory tract. This illness also occurs in other species.

Causes

Ear infections are usually triggered by previous infections which then proceed to spread and affect the ear. For instance, having a cold can be the cause. Ultimately, improper drainage of the Eustachian tubes is the specific reason for the development of an infection in the ear. These tubes connect the ear and the throat. Their functioning is affected during respiratory sicknesses, throat or allergy problems and while having enlarged adenoid glands. When there is a blockage, fluids may collect behind the eardrum. The undraining ear can trap a bacteria or a virus, causing it to develop. The well-known ‘Strep throat’, or streptococcus, is caused by bacteria and can cause ear infections. Catching the flu (influenza virus) or another respiratory virus such as syncytial respiratory virus  (RSV for short) can also result in the infection.

Signs

The most commonly recognized sign of an ear infection is the accompanying earache.  In some mild cases, the person experiences no pain or symptoms at all, making early detection very difficult. The infection can affect the hearing, mood, appetite, as well as sleep patterns. It may also cause a discharge from the ear, a pressure or ringing in the ear, vomiting, dizziness and fever. A discharge of fluid appears when there is a tear inside the ear. Generally, if the individual has just been suffering from a cold, flu, allergic attack or problems with their glands, it is likely that the development of the previous symptoms indeed indicates otitis media. Depending on the seriousness of the infection people may experience the sickness very differently. Children may react variably to this, but usually if they are experiencing pain in the ear, attention from a medical professional should be sought. Pets may shake their heads as a result of an ear infection.

Cures

You can target some of the symptoms at home, and the infection may subside on its own with proper care. Acetaminophen and aspirin are good ways to target the pain. However, caution must be used as certain medicines can cause harm if administered improperly. For example, aspirin is inappropriate for young children.  You can also buy eardrops or decongestants. Focusing on preventative health in general can be a good way to prevent the occurrence of ear infections. The main preventative measure is the maintenance of good hygiene. Among these is practicing good hand-washing habits and limiting nicotine intake. Cigarette smoke can cause the infection, especially in those most vulnerable, such as children. Children are particularly likely to develop an ear infection. Another measure which is conducive to prevention is limiting exposure to others with infections. In the worst possible case, an ear infection can result in surgery. For this reason, it is important to seek help from a doctor if the condition persists. Most commonly antibiotics will be administered.