Ear infections can occur in the Outer, Middle and Inner Ear, and sometimes can be associated with hearing loss. The most common type of ear infection known as Otitis Media occurs in the Middle Ear. Children are particularly prone to Middle-Ear infections.
Otitis Media & Types of Ear Infections
A Middle Ear Infection, also known as Acute Otitis Media, can be either a bacterial or viral infection of the Middle Ear, which can lead to inflammation, pain and fever. It may occur after or with a cold, flu or other respiratory illnesses.
In some cases, a Middle Ear Infection occurs with a build-up of fluid. The condition of having fluid in the Middle Ear is known medically as Otitis Media with Effusion, which also goes by the more common name of Glue Ear. This condition can also occur when there is no bacterial infection present.
Some ear infections are caused by bacteria and require antibiotic treatment, however many are caused by viruses and get better without using antibiotics. In both cases pain management is important. The use of a warm water bottle or face-washer along with age-appropriate medication may be useful in managing any pain associated with ear infections.
Outer Ear Infections, such as Otitis Externa, occur as skin inflammations in the Ear Canal or Outer Ear. They can be painful and are often the result of allergic reactions or bacterial and fungal infections that can be triggered (but not strictly caused) by moisture, scratches, broken skin and exposure to allergens.
If an ear infection is bacterial, it can be managed by a course of antibiotics that your local GP can provide. If needed, any persistent hearing loss associated with an ear infection can be managed by a suitably qualified hearing health professional, such as an audiologist.
If Middle Ear Infections, and any associated middle ear fluid build-up, become regular occurrences, it may be worthwhile seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. One possible option to reduce the occurrence of Middle Ear Infections is the insertion of small tubes into the eardrum known as grommets.
Outer Ear Infection symptoms usually disappear after a few days. If you have ongoing problems, either see your GP or local Pharmacist and find out what treatment options are available to help clear up the infection.
- Ear Infections (Better Health Channel)
- Medicines and treatments for Middle Ear Infections
- Middle Ear Infections (Health Direct).