Conditions We Treat: Middle Ear Infection

Ear infections impact people of all ages, but are especially common in children. They involve the middle ear, that section behind the eardrum where the smallest bones in the ear are located. Learn more about ear infections and how ENT, Sinus & Hearing Care Center can help.


What Causes Ear Infections?

Ear infections are generally caused by bacteria or viruses in the middle ear, microorganisms that generate inflammation and buildup of fluids. The infection can frequently develop in the wake of other illnesses such as a cold, the flu, or an allergic episode.

Ear infections are also known to appear following an inflammation of the Eustachian tubes, which are narrower in children. Regardless of the cause, they can lead to serious problems such as hearing loss and should be addressed quickly.

A diagram of a middle ear infection or otitis media


What Are the Symptoms of Ear Infections?

Bacteria or viruses in the middle ear can cause the body to react by producing germ-fighting cells. Consequently, the middle ear can fill up with fluid, which may lead to swelling and discomfort.

Additional signs and symptoms can include:

  • Pain and discomfort, particularly when lying down
  • Tugging at the affected ear
  • The ear feeling like an overinflated balloon about to pop
  • Difficulty sleeping, irritability, loss of appetite
  • Hearing problems and higher-latency reaction to sounds
  • Loss of balance
  • Drainage of fluid at the affected ear
  • Fever

If symptoms last more than a day; the person feels severe pain; and there is fluid, pus, blood, or other discharge coming from the ear, it’s essential to seek immediate emergency medical help.


How Is Middle Ear Infection Diagnosed?

Our expert otolaryngologist will examine the ear using a pneumatic otoscope, which is a lighting instrument that allows the otolaryngologist to look at the middle ear and eardrum.

After a full history and examination, the doctor will likely recommend additional tests such as a tympanometry and an audiometric evaluation. They’ll then discuss the most suitable treatment and follow up for successful recovery.


What Treatments Are Recommended for Ear Infections?

Initially, the doctor may need to clean the ear and, depending on the type of infection, may wait to see if the symptoms disappear on their own. In the event a fever or other symptoms persist without improvement, antibiotics may be recommended.

Depending on the age of the patient — especially if a child — and severity of the condition, the physician may prescribe pain medicine and warm compresses to alleviate some of the discomfort.

Untreated middle ear infections can have serious consequences, making it important to seek immediate medical attention. If you or your child is experiencing symptoms of an ear infection, please don’t wait. Contact our caring team to schedule a diagnostic evaluation today.

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