Have you ever felt a severe pain inside your ear? Perhaps it is itchy, and you have noticed gunk leaking out of it? Well, these are all signs of the dreaded ear infection. While ear infections may not seem serious, they can cause severe pain and discomfort. If you are unlucky enough to travel by plane with an undiagnosed ear infection, you are in for an incredibly long and excruciating journey. To understand why this is, you need to know what causes ear infections and the impact that they can have.
Causes Of Ear Infections
There are various causes of ear infections. One of the main reasons for getting an ear infection is putting things in your ear that should not be there. This could be anything from your finger to a q-tip or paper clip. It truly is astonishing to explore some of the items people use to clean their inner ears. The reality is that you shouldn’t be using anything to clean the inside of your ear. The ear is a compassionate place, and a single scratch on the inside can create issues. This can quickly lead to an infection.
You should only be cleaning your ear if you have a build-up of hardened ear wax. Even then, this should be completed by a professional.
Another cause of an ear infection would be the ear getting moist, potentially due to trapped water. This is common when you go away on holiday and spend too much time in the pool. It’s also possible if you don’t clean your ears thoroughly. When this happens, the moisture causes bacteria and fungus to build, leading to an unpleasant infection.
The other leading cause will be an infection somewhere else that spreads to the ear. This will often result from poor hygiene or continued cold or flu development. If you have flu-like symptoms and then notice that your ear is starting to ache, there’s a good chance you have developed an infection.
The Main Types Of Ear Infections
There are three main types of ear infections. These are otitis media, swimmer’s ear, and labyrinthitis. These are listed from the most common to the least.
Otitis media is a middle ear infection. It may cause anything from nausea to issues sleeping or even tinnitus. Tinnitus will trigger sensory changes and mean that you hear sounds that are not there. This could be anything from ringing to a buzzing. Listening to your heartbeat or breathing echoing in your ear with an ear infection is pretty standard.
As you might have guessed, a swimmer’s ear is one caused by moisture. It triggers pain, redness, and the discharge you might find on your pillow. It is unpleasant, but this type of infection is mostly harmless.
Finally, if you have an inner ear infection, you might have problems with vertigo, vomiting, or nausea, which can be pretty serious. An issue like this should be addressed immediately by a doctor.
How Long Will They Last
You’ll be pleased to hear that most ear infections do not last long. Indeed, it’s pretty standard for them to disappear within days. That’s why if you are an adult and immediately head to the doctors with an ear infection, they may not provide you with anything. Instead, they will wait to see if the issue gets worse. Some ear infections can last ten days, and most will be gone in about two weeks. On rare occasions, they can last longer, or they can be recurring, and at this point, they become a more serious issue.
Groups Of People Most At Risk From Ear Infections
Due to biological factors, ear infections are common in children, even though adults can also develop this issue. For example, if a child is tugging at their ear in pain, they may suffer from an infection. Those between six months and eighteen months are the most likely to develop an issue here and are also at risk of a more severe condition.
Recurring infections left untreated can cause issues with development and even permanent hearing loss. Children must always get checked out by a doctor if they have an ear infection. A doctor will be able to advise you on the treatment plan necessary.
Other people at risk of an ear infection include those with a damaged immune system or those around environments that irritate the ear. Smoke and fumes are the main concern here, but anything like dust and pollen can also create this type of havoc. As such, if you find that your child is constantly developing ear infections, it might be worth exploring the environment in the home.
Generally speaking, the top priority should always be ensuring that an ear infection does not spread. But unfortunately, it’s easy to unintentionally make an ear infection far worse. One of the ways that you can do this is by trying to clean out your ear. But instead, you should take steps to limit the discomfort and get any further treatment from a doctor.
In most cases, home treatment will be enough for an ear infection. For instance, a warm compress will relieve the pain and allow a person to rest. This can help speed up the recovery process. However, a doctor will provide antibiotics if an infection is particularly severe or growing worse. They are commonly given as ear drops and regularly used throughout the day. After a couple of days of using ear drops, you will usually experience significant relief. Aside from this, over-the-counter meds can be enough to clear the pain.
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