Ear infections occur when bacteria and viruses afflict parts of the ear. There are several causes for infections, the most common of which are allergies, colds, sinus infections, excess mucus, overgrown adenoids and tobacco use.
Ear infections can occur in multiple parts of the ear. They most commonly happen inside the middle ear, specifically when the Eustachian tube becomes clogged. This tiny tube is located inside the middle ear and drains to the throat. If the tube becomes clogged by mucous, then bacteria will enter the ear and cause an infection.
These clogs are often caused when viruses from the mouth, eyes or nasal passages get trapped behind the eardrum. This causes accumulated fluids that lead to difficulty hearing, fever and tiredness.
Infections can also occur in the outer ear. They start from the canal outside the eardrum and typically begin as an itchy rash. These outer ear infections can be the result of using foreign objects, such as cotton swabs. They are also more likely to occur in people who spend a lot of time in the water, especially swimmers. This is due to water that stays in the ear canal and creates a hotbed for germs.
Even though ear infections are more commonly found in children, adults may also suffer from them. Many ear infections heal within a few days, but it is important to visit a specialist to help you treat it. Signs you may have an ear infection include:
- Itchy rash inside the ear
- Loss of balance
- Nausea and vomitting
- Difficulty hearing
- Pain and pressure in the ear
To prevent an ear infection, make sure you properly clean your ears after bathing or swimming by blotting the ears with a towel. Some doctors recommend using earplugs when swimming to avoid getting water in your ears. Also, be careful with cotton swab use, since these can injure your ear canal.
If your symptoms don’t go away within three days, it is important to contact Dr. Shuaib to schedule an appointment. Dr. Shuaib will use an otoscope to look at the eardrum and ear canal in order to see if there are any signs of infection. He will ask about all your symptoms and if you have taken any medication. He might also see how the eardrum reacts to air pushed into it in order to see if you have a middle ear infection.
Dr. Stefan Shuaib is one of the top head and neck surgeons in Texas and provides on-site diagnosis and treatment in the Rio Grande Valley. If you are concerned about any changes or symptoms you have been experiencing, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shuaib by calling (956) 362-8125.