4 Common Ear Infections You Should Know About

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Ear Infections

Ear infections are the most common reason that children visit doctors. In fact, four out of six kids will have a minimum one ear infection before their third birthday. These infections can affect different parts of the ear and are caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. While ear infections are more common in children, adults are still susceptible to these disorders. Ear infections are a more serious health concern in adults than in children. Here are four common ear infections you should know about.

1. Acute otitis externa

Acute otitis externa (swimmer’s ear) is an inflammation or disorder of the ear canal and outer ear. This infection is commonly associated with swimming and can be found in all age groups. When water is trapped in the ear, it creates a conducive breeding environment for bacteria and viruses, resulting in acute otitis externa. The condition can also be triggered by aggressive scratching of the ear or when an object gets stuck in your ears.

If you are a regular swimmer, consider using swimming earplugs or a swimming cap to cover your ears and protect them from water. Earplugs are a great option for the swimmer’s ear protection, especially for sports and leisure swimmers.

2. Chronic otitis media

Chronic otitis media (COH) is an inflammatory disorder of the middle ear or mastoids. This condition is characterized by persistent or pus-like discharge, and its symptoms include difficulty hearing, aural fullness, and occasional vertigo.

Steroid and topical antibiotic treatment are the mainstay of chronic otitis media treatment. However, you should visit an ENT specialist if your symptoms have lasted more than six weeks. Chronic otitis media can lead to permanent hearing loss or other serious complications if not treated on time.

3. Infectious myringitis

An infectious myringitis is a form of acute otitis media caused by various bacteria and viruses. The mycoplasma and streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria are the most common causes of infectious myringitis.

This ear infection causes painful blisters (vesicles) on the eardrum, which begin suddenly and last 24 to 48 hours. You may also experience fever, draining, or hearing loss in the painful ear. Since it’s hard to tell whether the infectious myringitis is viral or bacterial, the infection is usually treated with antibiotics and pain relievers. These can be given by mouth or as ear drops.

4. Vestibular neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is the inflammation of the vestibular part of the eighth cranial nerve that helps control balance. People with vestibular neuritis usually go through an acute and a chronic phase, which means sudden, severe symptoms for about one week. It’s then followed by milder symptoms that last between a few weeks to several months.

Viral infections such as hepatitis, polio, and flu are the main risk factors for vestibular neuritis. While symptoms may improve in a week or two, most people develop chronic, long-lasting symptoms such as dizziness, spatial disorientation, and unsteadiness. In extreme cases, it may also cause permanent hearing loss or damage to the inner ear.

Endnote

Ear infections are not as common in adults as they are in children, but they can still occur. If you suspect you have an ear infection, get it checked by your doctor as soon as possible. An ear infection can put you at risk of permanent hearing disorder or possibly spread to other parts of the head if it goes untreated for a long time.

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