What is an Ear Infection?
Definition of Ear Infection: An infection that inflames the middle ear, an air-filled area located behind the ear drum. Ear infections are more common in young children than adults. Below is a brief overview of the causes, symptoms and treatments, plus links to more information.
What Causes Ear Infections? When the pair of narrow tubes (called the eustachian tubes) which drain the middle ear to the throat become swollen, blocked or inflamed, the middle ear can become a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Colds, allergies, tobacco smoke, sinus infections and other conditions that irritate or block the back of the throat can cause ear infections.
Are Ear Infections Contagious? Yes, because many causes of ear infections, such as the common cold, are contagious.
Medical Term: Otitis media.
Signs & Symptoms: Common symptoms include earache, drainage from the ear and hearing trouble. If a child cannot talk, signs of an ear infection could be tugging at the ear, irritability and fussiness, trouble sleeping, and balance trouble.
Treatment & Remedies: Many ear infections do not require drugs, but a doctor may prescribe specific ear drops to relieve pain or antibiotics in certain cases, according to the National Institutes of Health. Applying a warm cloth to the ear and over-the-counter pain relief that is safe for children may relieve symptoms.
- Holding an infant upright during bottle feeding may prevent some ear infections, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- The size and shape of eustachian tubes in infants and toddlers put them at greater risk for ear infections, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Swimmer's ear, called otitis externa, is an outer ear infection.
Sources and More Information:
- Ear Infection: Details from MyHealthNewsDaily
- Related Information from the Mayo Clinic
- Related Information from the National Institutes of Health
- Related Information from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders
This information is not meant to provide specific medical advice. It is for educational purposes only. We recommend you consult a qualified health care professional for diagnoses and treatment advice, and call 9-1-1 in emergencies.
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