Ear infections, also known as otitis media, is an infection in the middle ear. It is common and can occur at any age. Ear infections aren’t contagious, but the viruses and infections that sometimes lead to ear infections oftentimes are contagious.
It’s helpful to know the causes and symptoms of ear infections. Knowing so will help get you back to your coffee dates at Left Bank Coffee House after treatment.
Causes and Symptoms
Ear infections occur when the Eustachian tube, the tube running from the ear to the back of the throat, becomes congested with fluid. The fluid can be present due to a variety of causes.
A few causes include:
- Allergies: Allergens can sometimes cause the Eustachian tube to become irritated or inflamed. Congestion from a runny nose caused by allergies can also become lodged in the tube, resulting in an ear infection.
- Viruses and bacteria: Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilusinfluenzae can cause illnesses that result in inflammation and congestion.
- Adenoids: Enlarged adenoids, especially in children, can cause the Eustachian tube to become constricted, allowing for buildup, resulting in an ear infection.
If you’re unsure how to identify an ear infection, you can observe the following symptoms:
- Ear pain in one or both ears
- Muffled hearing
- Fluid drainage
- Sore throat and fever
Young children often don’t have the ability to express when they think they have an ear infection, so watching for pulling or tugging on the ears and abnormal irritability is helpful.
Most ear infections will resolve on their own. Repeated ear infections or ear infections accompanied by fever should receive medical attention.
Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain medications to relieve discomfort caused by an ear infection. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic, depending on your illness.
Ear infections are not contagious, but the illnesses that accompany them often are, so it’s important to remember to wash your hands and avoid contaminating others when you’re ill.
If you have further questions about ear infections, schedule an appointment with ENT & Allergy Specialists today.