Ear infections are the result of a bacterial or viral infection. These infections cause fluid to build-up in the middle ear and are painful. Ear infections can be acute or chronic. An acute ear infection is painful but brief while a chronic ear infection does not improve, or it recurs over time. Chronic ear infections can inflict permanent damage to the middle and inner ear. There may be severe consequences for not treating an ear infection.
When the Eustachian tube in your ear becomes swollen or blocked, fluid builds up in your middle ear. Reasons for this blockage include:
The symptoms of an ear infection might persist for lengthy periods or come and go. The infections might affect one or both of your ears. The symptoms of a chronic ear infection are typically less noticeable than the symptoms of an acute ear infection. Common ear infection symptoms include the following:
Specific risk factors often lead to ear infections including altitude changes, climate changes, recent illness, and exposure to cigarette smoke. A hearing healthcare professional can diagnose an ear infection by examining for:
An ear infection may heal on its own. However, there are serious consequences possible if you ignore an ear infection. Permanent hearing loss, bone infection, brain abscess, or stroke can result from not treating your ear infection.
Although treatment with antibiotics is effective for ear infections, research suggests there may still be severe neurological complications including hearing loss, facial paralysis, meningitis, and brain abscess. It is essential to treat your ear infection and be aware of any possible difficulties that may follow the infection.
A mild ear infection may improve over time without the need for medical intervention. There are ways to relieve the symptoms of a mild ear infection, and those methods include:
Schedule an appointment with your hearing healthcare provider if your symptoms do not improve in a reasonable amount of time. A course of antibiotics might heal your ear infection. If your infection does not improve from the use of antibiotics, surgery may be an option. Surgery could include the placement of tubes in your ear to allow fluid to drain out. If the infection involves the adenoids, surgical removal of them might be an option.
If your ears are infected, and the standard over-the-counter remedies are not working, seek professional help. Antibiotics and possibly surgery can heal your ear infection. Be aware of any possible neurological problems that may result from your ear infection. Most importantly, take good care of your ears and avoid those factors that might trigger an ear infection.