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What is an Ear Infection?

An ear infection can be very painful and disruptive to your day. They can be classified into two types: inner and outer ear infections. Both can be painful, affect hearing, and often require antibiotics for curative treatment. A doctor will use an otoscope to look into the ear and determine what is causing the symptoms.

Ear Infection

An Inner Ear Infection, Otitis Media, is an infection behind the in the air space behind the ear drum. It can cause the drum to bulge and look red, sometimes they can rupture from excessive pressure caused by the infection. Often patients will complain of decreased hearing in the affected ear and children are more susceptible to these types of ear infections than adults. Nonverbal children can appear fussy, have a fever and tug at the affected ear. These often follow an upper respiratory infection like a cold.

An Outer Ear infection, Otitis Externa, also called Swimmer’s Ear is often painful, cause decreased hearing and can be associated with an ear canal discharge. The canal upon inspection is often swollen, red, and filled with a whitish exudative material. Individuals who are in water a lot and or unable to keep their canals dry seem to be more susceptible to these types of ear infections.

How is an Ear Infection Treated?

Both types of infections usually require an antibiotic, although they can sometimes clear up on their own. Inner ear infections are usually treated with a penicillin type antibiotic, unless there is an allergy, than an alternative is chosen. Outer ear infections are treated with antibiotic drops and both infections usually resolve in a few days with hearing returning to normal in 5-7 days.

How Can I Prevent ear Infections?

  • Keep ears and canals dry
  • Avoid second hand smoke
  • Breast feed your baby
  • Make sure all vaccinations are up to date

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