An ear infection is simply the inflammation and infection of the middle ear. This is the area inside of the eardrum. This illness most commonly effects small children although even adults can suffer from ear infections too. An ear infection of the middle ear is the most common type of ear infections and is simple called an ear infection. An infection of the outer ear is most commonly called swimmer’s ear.
Who is at Risk of Ear Infections?
Ages: Children between the ages of 6 months and 18 months are at the greatest risk for ear infections although it is very common to find ear infections in children as young as 4 months to 4 years of age.
Group Day Care: Children who are in group child care rather than single day care or at home with a parent or sitter. This is due to the exposure to virus and colds which can be a cause of ear infections.
Poor Air Quality: Those children who live in an area with poor air quality or high pollution are at a greater risk of ear infections. Those children in a home with a smoker are also at great risk of ear infections.
Family History: Those who have a family history of ear infections either as small children or adults are at a greater risk of having ear infections. This can be due to the formation and size of the tubes that run from the ear to the throat areas.
Ethnicity: Those of Native American and Eskimo descendants are at a greater risk of having ear infections.
Seasons: Seasonal allergies can also put people at greater risk of having ear infections. The allergy season for allergy suffers can be a difficult time and even lead to ear infections.
Since ear infections are most common in small children even before
they are able to talk it is important to know what signs and symptoms to
look for to diagnosis or detect an ear infection.
Here are a few common sign s and symptoms of ear infections.
- Tugging or pulling at the ears
- Unable to respond to sound or your voice
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Unusual Irritability
- Itchy Ears
Ear infections are most commonly caused by viral infections or the common cold. This is caused by inflammation and fluid build up behind the ear drum. Another common cause of ear infection is dysfunctional or inflammation of the Eustachian tubes. The tubes in children are naturally shorter and narrower than in adults. The small Eustachian tubes can be compounded by an inflammation or swelling of the tubes or a dysfunctional tube. Adenoids can also be a cause or complication to ear infections. They can become infected and either infect the Eustachian tubes or swell and block the eustachian tubes in the upper part of the throat.
The most commonly used over the counter drug for ear infections is pain relievers. The use of Tylenol or Advil to relieve pain. You can also use decongestants to help with the symptoms of a common cold and hopefully prevent ear infections.
Ear Infections can very easily be treated at home with alternative treatments. The use of a warm wash cloth or heating pad can be placed on the infected ear to relieve pain. It is also important to reduce noises in the home to prevent pain from loud noises. Drinking warm fluids or eating soup can also help relieve the pain and discomfort of an ear infection. Since an ear infection is generally caused by viral infections it should clear up and improve rather quickly.
When Should You Seek Medical Attention?
If an ear infection last for more than a few days or hearing has been impaired. If a child younger than two shows signs of ear infections for more than a day then a doctors should be seen. If blood or pus is coming from the ear than medical attention should be seen.
Typically medical treatment is not necessary for viral type ear infections. Occasionally doctors will prescribe an antibiotic to help with the infection or to prevent further infections. Doctors can also prescribe ear drops to help relieve the pain.
In extreme cases of repeat ear infections tubes can be placed into the ears to help relieve pressure and allow the ears to properly drain. These tubes can prevent further ear infections are usually left in temporarily until the eustation tubes mature and get larger or less inflamed.