Any part of the ear (outer, middle, inner) can be susceptible to infection, which can be very painful in some cases. Children are at a higher risk to get earaches, and the middle ear is more likely to get infected within this age group. Ear infections can cause thick mucus production and nasal congestion, which is generally caused by a viral infection that heals within a few days. However, with ear infections that last over one week, a physical examination with our Alabama ENT Specialists can help determine the type of infection, and provide treatment to alleviate the pain and prevent it from spreading.
Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Bacterial or viral infections cause middle ear complications. In the case of viral ear infections, these generally heal on their own without any special medical treatment. However, other causes of middle ear infections may include allergies, nutritional deficiencies, or an obstruction of the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube refers to a narrow, hollow tube at the outside of the nasal cavity on each side of the nose, which equalizes pressure in the middle ear. In very rare cases, negative pressure builds in the middle ear, then fluid builds up, leading to an infection and sometimes hearing loss. If left untreated, it develops a bacterial infection with symptoms of swelling, pain, and severe ear pressure.
Based on the cause of the middle ear infection, treatments will vary from eardrops, antibiotics, decongestants, or surgical insertion of a pressure equalization (PE) tubes into the eardrum. Ear tubes are especially beneficial for children with persistent ear infections.
The PE ear tube is utilized to allow normal pressure behind the eardrum with the outside air. These tubes come in different materials and shapes, designed for long-term solution based on the age of the patient and the severity of their condition. These tubes also allow for drainage from the middle ear. In more severe cases, ear tubes are used in combination with a surgical procedure, called adenoidectomy, or the removal of enlarged lymphoid tissues obstructing the opening of the Eustachian tubes.
In any case of ear infection, it is critical to seek professional medical attention from Alabama Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialists for examination, diagnosis, and the most efficient treatment options so patients can return to daily activities without any further complications. Contact us today or visit our blog page for more information!