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Ear Infection: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Ear infections are among the most painful, irritating conditions a person can have – whether young or old. Although ear infections are quite common (affecting 5 out of 6 children before they are 3 years old), this doesn’t mean they are any easier to deal with. In most cases, ear infections occur within the middle ear or the space behind the eardrum where the vibrating bones are located. Medically speaking, this specific type of ear infection is referred to as otitis media and is caused by either a bacteria or virus. There are other types of infections that can occur within the ear canal, but these are far less common. The most common of these inner ear canal infections is swimmer’s ear, which gets its name because it most commonly occurs after swimming.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

Ear infections are more common among children than adults, but both groups are susceptible. If you get an ear infection as an adult, be sure and pay close attention to your symptoms and come into our urgent care center if you are not improving. Whereas childhood ear infections are usually minor and clear up in a matter of days, adult ear infections are often the sign of something more serious.

Let’s now take a look at some of the most common symptoms of the different types of ear infections:

  • Inner Ear Infection – If you have an inner infection, it may actually be inflammation, not an infection. Ear pain is the most common symptoms, but other signs to look for include:
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
  • Middle Ear Infection – As mentioned earlier, this is the most common type of ear infection. In most cases, the infection occurs when fluid becomes trapped behind the eardrum, causing the eardrum to bulge. In addition to ear pain, you may experience some fluid drainage and feel as if the ear is ‘full’ or expanded. Other symptoms include:
    • Hearing loss
    • Pain
    • Overall ill feeling
    • Fluid behind the eardrum
  • Outer Ear Infection – The outer ear, known as the otitis extrema, can also become infected. When this happens, many people report an itchy rash to start. Additional symptoms include:
    • Pain
    • Tenderness
    • Redness
    • Swollen

It is important to make a distinction between the symptoms that adults and children experience with an ear infection. In children, the symptoms may include:

  • Tugging at the ear
  • Lack of sleep
  • High fever
  • Irritability
  • Ear drainage
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Crying at night when lying down

Treating an Ear Infection

In most cases, an ear infection will go away on its own without any treatment. If your child is over the age of 2 and you believe he or she has an ear infection, keep an eye on them for 72 hours. If their symptoms have not subsided during this time, please come into Urgentology Care so one of our experienced doctors can evaluate your child. Additionally, if the pain is accompanied by other, more serious symptoms, please come into our urgent care clinic. While ear infections are not contagious, they can be extremely painful. For most people, treating an ear infection centers around getting the pain under control. Taking an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or Tylenol can be very effective. If you have questions about this or if you would like to visit one of our urgent care doctors to discuss you or your child’s symptoms, please contact Urgentology Care today.

Important: If you have a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Room. Information in this site is not intended to be used as a diagnosis for your symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention or visit Urgentology Care.

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