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However mostly common in children, ear infection is one condition that may affect anyone at any stage of life. It has the general symptom of an ache to the ear or a swelling around it. Most cases are solved by the use of painkillers, and a number of cases also see some antibiotics prescribed.

Definition of ear infection.

Ear infections are categorized into two groups. There are those infections that take place in the ear canal and those infections that take place in the middle ear. The middle ear is the area behind the ear drum and the infection to it is normally known as acute otitis media. This article seeks to explain the infection that takes place in the middle ear.

How does ear infection take place?

The middle ear is usually filled with air. A tiny channel connects it with the back of the throat and the channel is known as Eustachian tube. During a cold, the middle ear has the tendency of filling up with mucus. The mucus in a number of times is infected by bacteria and viruses. When one especially a child has the mucus in their middle ear they are more than likely to get an ear infection. Sometimes, an ear infection can occur without the presence of the mucus in the middle ear.

Symptoms of an ear infection.

  1. Ache to the year. This is a common symptom; however it is not always evident in every case of an ear infection.
  2. Poor hearing. This may set in after a couple of days.
  3. Fever
  4. Nausea or vomiting in children.
  5. Eardrum may burst to release the collected and infected mucus.

 

Recommended treatments for ear infections.

In most cases, an ear infection fades away in a couple of days. The human immune system has the ability to rid the body of the germs that are causing the ear infection. However, if need be, the following are some of the ways that ear infections can be dealt with.

  1. This is the best remedy in the case of an ear infection that causes pain to the individual. The painkillers will also help lower the temperature of the person or child hence relieving the fever.
  2. Rarely prescribed for ear infections, antibiotics normally come with side effects that may harm the person. They are normally prescribed in severe cases of infections to the ear that do not clear in two to three days or cause complications, and to children of two years or younger.

Possible complications caused by ear infections.

It is a common occurrence for the mucus in the middle ear to remain lodged in there. This has the impact of creating the poor hearing for a while after the infection. After a period of a week or so, the mucus eventually clears and proper hearing is regained. If the mucus does not clear properly, a condition known as glue ear is then developed by the person. When this occurs, it is advisable to seek medication from a doctor. The bursting of the eardrum also normally heals fast, within weeks, but may also take longer. Doctor’s advice is equally recommended in such a situation.

Swimmer’s ear refers to an infection of the outer ear canal. The outer ear canal runs from the eardrum and travels to the outside of the head. The infection usually occurs from water that stays in your ear after swimming, which provides a suitable moist environment for bacteria to thrive in.

Putting cotton swabs, your fingers or other objects into your ears may damage the thin layer of skin overlying the ear canal, thus resulting in a swimmer’s ear infection.

Swimmer’s ear is also called otitis externa or acute external otitis. The infection is most commonly caused due to bacteria that invade the thin layer of skin of the ear canal. Swimmer’s ear can be effectively treated with eardrops. Prompt treatment is necessary to make sure future complications and more severe infections are prevented.

A short YouTube video on How to Care for Swimmer’s Ear

Signs and symptoms of a swimmer’s ear

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear are initially mild but they worsen with time if the infection is left untreated. Swimmer’s itch is classified as mild, moderate and advanced progression.

Mild signs and symptoms include:

  • Itching in the ear canal
  • Subtle redness of the inner ear
  • Drainage – clear and odorless fluid
  • Mild discomfort – may worsen when the bump in front of the ear is pushes or the outer ear is pulled

Moderate progression signs and symptoms include:

  • Increasing pain
  • Itchiness is more intense
  • Redness is more extensive
  • Excessive drainage of fluid
  • Pus discharge
  • Muffled or reduced hearing
  • A feeling of fullness in the inner ear
  • A partial blockage in the ear canal caused by swelling, debris and fluid

Advanced progression signs and symptoms include:

  • Severe pain – pain may radiate to the side of the head, face or neck
  • Swelling or redness of the outer ear
  • Complete blockage of the ear canal
  • Fever
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck

When to seek medical attention

See your doctor even if you experience mild signs and symptoms of swimmer’s ear. Seek immediate medical attention if swimmer’s ear is companied by fever or severe pain.

Treatment for Swimmer’s Ear

Treatment aims and stopping the infection with cleaning and medication and allowing the ear canal to recover.

Cleaning is vital to allow the flow to eardrops to infected regions of the ear. Your doctor will most likely use a suction tool to clean fluids, discharge, debris, earwax and flaky skin.

Medication includes eardrops with a combination of:

  • Acidic solution to restore the antibacterial environment of the ear
  •  Steroid injections to control inflammation
  • Antibiotics to fight bacteria
  • Antifungal medication in case the infection is fungal

You can also take pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and discomfort of the ear. If pain is persistent or severe even with the use of medication, your doctor may prescribe a stronger pain medication.

The following tips may help you use ear drops in a better way:

  • Bring the eardrops to your body temperature by holding the bottle for a few minutes. This will reduce discomfort caused by cool fluids
  • Lie on your side while using the ear drops
  • It is better if you ask someone to put the ear drops into your ear