As per an NIH research report (National Institute of Health), 75% of children suffer from one ear infection or the other by only three years of age. Although it is quite common amongst children, adults are also susceptible to such diseases. Ear infections in children are usually minor, and they quickly recover, but such infections in adults are generally a pointer towards an underlying disorder or severe health condition. At ENT Specialist Singapore, we diagnose and provide treatment for all kinds of ear infections.

Types and Symptoms of Ear Infections

We have three critical types of ear infections. You can categorize them based on where they happen in 3 areas of our ears: outer, middle, and inner ear.

Inner Ear Infection

Sometimes, doctors misdiagnose swelling in the inner part of your ears as an inner ear infection. An inner ear infection includes symptoms like ear pain, dizziness, vomiting, or nausea.

Please note that persistent issues in the inner ear can also indicate a severe health condition like Meningitis.

Middle Ear Infection

The region located behind your eardrum is your middle ear, aka otitis media. If your eardrum bulges out due to trapped fluid behind it, we call it a middle ear infection. Its main symptoms include earache, a feeling of fullness in your ear, or fluid leakage from the affected ear.

Before infection clears, a few patients may experience either a fever or some hearing issues.

Outer Ear Infection

What is the outer ear? Doctors define it as the part starting from your eardrum to the outside of your head. The outer ear or Otitis externa infections generally begin with itchy rashes. Additional indications include your ears appearing red, swollen, painful, or tender.

Causes

The main reason for any ear infection is the presence of bacteria. Getting a middle or outer ear infection depends upon the causes of your condition.

Middle Ear Infection

A respiratory infection or a cold is usually the cause behind your middle ear infection. This infection usually shifts from your respiratory system to your ear via eustachian tubes. The eustachian lines are responsible for regulating air pressure inside your ear and linked to your throat and nose.

If someone suffers from a middle ear infection, it can irritate his eustachian tubes as well. It may lead to swelling of those tubes leading to a problem of improper drainage for these tubes. The fluid starts building up against the eardrum as there is no outlet. Ultimately, it leads to a feeling of fullness inside your ear, along with other symptoms.

Outer Ear Infection

Outer ear infections, or swimmer’s ear, usually happen because of trapped water in your ear, especially after taking a bath or completing a swimming session. The trapped water generates sufficient moisture creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow fast. If you scratch your ears or develop some irritation in the ear’s outer lining, a bacterial infection occurs. Ear Irritation can also occur if you insert a finger or some foreign objects in the ear.

Risk Factors

Children have smaller and more horizontal eustachian tubes. Hence they are more receptive to ear problems than adults. Adults can also be vulnerable to an ear infection if their eustachian lines are smaller or have a more pronounced slope.

Adults having a habit of smoking or exposure to indirect, frequent passive smoking are also susceptible to ear infections. People who get frequent seasonal allergies or year-round allergies are also at a higher risk of developing an ear infection. Moreover, if you get a cold or infection in your upper respiratory tract, you will also be at an increased risk of disease.

When to See a Doctor

If you have only one symptom of ear pain, you may wait for a couple of days, check if you are still experiencing this problem, and then visit your ENT doctor. An ear infection can also resolve automatically with a few days. If the pain stays longer and you start getting a fever, we suggest that you should consult an ENT doctor at the earliest possible. Besides, if you feel hearing issues or if the fluid starts draining from your ears, you should immediately seek medical help.

If you need to see an ENT specialist, speak to your insurance company. The company might need a referral from your primary doctor to cover your visit charges.

Usually, you need not worry if you develop laryngitis. It will only bother you for some time. But you should monitor your healing progress if you believe that you are not getting better or have other symptoms. You can consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of a severe case.

Prepare for Your Visit

Before you visit an ENT doctor, you should prepare yourself with answers to a few simple questions related to your condition. You should be ready with answers to questions, including the following:

  •    When was the first time you noticed the symptoms?
  •    What is the severity of those symptoms, low, moderate, or high?
  •    Did you get this condition all of a sudden, or it happened slowly over time?
  •    Did you feel any head trauma before the start of this disorder?
  •    Have you tried anything to resolve it?
  •    If yes, did it make you feel worse or better than before?

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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