Ear Infections (Acute, Chronic, and Recurrent)
If you have a feeling of pressure or pain within your ear, or if you have fluid draining from your ear, you may be suffering from a middle ear infection. Ear infections are the result of bacteria or viruses growing within your ear and can cause the feeling of pain, pressure, and loss of hearing.
Acute vs. Chronic vs. Recurrent Ear Infections
Acute ear infections are a one-time occurrence, that is short, and painful. A chronic ear infection can have milder symptoms than an acute ear infection, but it lasts longer and does not heal that lasts longer and does not heal.
If the ear infection heals, but comes back up to three times in a six month timespan, or four times in a year timespan, it is considered a recurrent ear infection.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Ear infections can cause the lining of your eustachian tubes to become swollen, blocking air from getting to the middle ear. Without air movement, fluid can accumulate, creating an environment for bacteria and viruses to grow and thrive, resulting in an ear infection.
Eustachian tubes can become swollen and blocked due to the following reasons:
- Sinus infections
- Air pressure changes
- Infected tonsils or adenoids
People can also become more susceptible to ear infections under the following circumstances:
- Changes in altitude, such as when flying on a plane
- Extreme changes in climate
- Recent sickness or ear infection
- Children under the age of 3
Diagnosis and Treatment for Ear Infections
Diagnosis of ear infections typically just involves describing your symptoms to your doctor and a physical examination. Your doctor will usually use a lighted instrument called an otoscope to look into your ears, throat, and nasal passages, in addition to listening to your breathing with a stethoscope.
Ear infections will typically resolve themselves within a few days. However if your doctor determines that the infection is bacterial, they will often prescribe antibiotics. Treatment may also involve over-the-counter medicine to help with symptoms or a procedure that helps to drain fluid buildup that has accumulated within the middle ear.
If you or your child is suffering from ear infections or the symptoms described above, schedule an appointment with your ENT specialist for evaluation and treatment today.