Causes and Prevention of Ear Infections

Ear infections are an inflammation of the inner ear by either a bacteria or a virus. The infection is typically painful and inflamed due to fluid or pus accumulation in the middle ear. An ear infection can be either acute or chronic, depending on the duration of infection. Acute infections occur for a short period while chronic infections fail to clear, recur several times, and might result in permanent damage of the inner and middle ear.

Ear Infection Symptoms

The manifestations of ear infections slightly vary for adults and children, but both are typically rapid. Tugging of the earlobes, ear pain, trouble sleeping, crying, fussiness, loss of balance, headache, fluid draining from the affected ear, fever, loss of appetite, and trouble hearing are symptoms of an ear infection in children. Fever can also be a symptom, but it isn’t always present.

Adults usually manifest with ear discomfort or pain, pus drainage from the affected ear, trouble hearing, and persistent pressure inconsistency between ears. These manifestations might occur once, or return time and time again. These signs might happen in both ears, increasing the severity of pain felt by patients. 

Ear Infection Causes

The root cause of infection is either a bacteria or virus that attacks the middle ear. These microorganisms originate from a previous or current infection that prompts inflammation and congestion of the throat, Eustachian tubes, and nasal passages. Such conditions include allergies, flu, and the common cold. 

The Eustachian tubes control air pressure, entry of air, and draining of normal secretion in and out of the middle ear. A swollen tube blocks and causes accumulation of fluid in the ear, thereby prompting an infection in the middle ear. The duo pads of tissues located in the rear end of the nose near the Eustachian tubes are called adenoids. The inflammation of adenoids blocks the Eustachian tubes resulting in infection. Children typically have larger adenoids than adults, which may explain why they are more susceptible to this condition than adults.

Risk Factors and Prevention

The risk factors for an ear infection can include:

  • Age
  • Poor air quality
  • Cleft palate
  • Seasonal factors
  • High interaction with other children (community spread)
  • Exclusively bottle-feeding

Parents should encourage children to regularly wash their hands, avoid sharing utensils, and cough or sneeze into their elbow. If your child is showing signs of ear infection, give us a call and schedule a consultation