Ear Infections and Earache

Symptoms of ear infections

Ear infections are very common affecting both children and adults

Common symptoms include:

  • Earache, which sometimes can be severe
  • Hearing loss and occasionally noise in the ear
  • Imbalance/dizziness with the sensation of nausea which maybe troublesome
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Blocked and/or pressure sensation in the ear

Causes and Site of Ear Infections

These include bacterial, fungal and viral infections caused by:

  • Trauma – excessive cleaning of the ear, accidental injury etc
  • Contaminated water from swimming pools or other sources, even bath water
  • Severe cold and flu
  • Skin conditions such as eczema predispose to infections

Depending on the part of the ear that is affected, the ear infection can be classified as those affecting the:

  • Outer ear (otitis externa) where the ear canal is mainly affected
  • Middle ear infections (otitis media) where the part of the ear between the eardrum and the inner ear is affected
  • Inner ear infections (loosely called labyrinthitis) affect the inner ear
  • Symptoms to a great degree depend on the part of the ear that is affected
  • Occasionally more than one part may be affected

Treatment of Ear Infections

The treatment depends on the cause and some other factors:

  • Outer ear infections often need clearing the ear canal to remove pus and debris before using eardrops. If the ear canal is extremely swollen, a wick may be inserted to instill the drops in. Oral antibiotics are not usually required as drops form the mainstay of treatment
  • Middle ear infections will often require oral antibiotics and sometimes the middle ear may have to be drained under anaesthetic
  • Inner ear infections generally tend to be viral in origin and resolve spontaneously, although this may take a few weeks

Complications of ear infections

Occasionally ear infections may result in:

  • Reduced hearing, permanent deafness and prolonged dizziness
  • Chronic discharge from the ear as a result of perforation of the eardrum that does not heal, can lead to recurrence of symptoms
  • It is therefore best to obtain an opinion from an ENT specialist and have them treat it adequately

Please click HERE for more information about outer ear infections on the ENTUK website

Please click HERE for more information about middle ear infections on the ENTUK website



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