Ear Infection

:: An ear infection is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear.

Bonum / Conditions / Ear Infection

Symptoms

Symptoms of an ear infection may vary, but patients typically experience:

Children

  • Ear pain
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Acting more irritable than usual
  • Difficulty hearing

   

  • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of balance

Adults

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Diminished hearing
Ear-Infection

Overview

Ear infections frequently are painful because of inflammation and buildup of fluids in the middle ear.

Because ear infections often clear up on their own, treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring the problem.

Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections. Ear infection in infants and severe cases in general often require antibiotic medications. Long-term problems related to ear infections — persistent fluids in the middle ear, persistent infections or frequent infections — can cause hearing problems and other serious complications.

Prevention

The following tips may reduce the risk of developing ear infections:

  • Prevent common colds and other illnesses. Teach your children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and to not share eating and drinking utensils. Teach your children to cough or sneeze into their arm crook. If possible, limit the time your child spends in group child care. A child care setting with fewer children may help. Try to keep your child home from child care or school when ill.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. Make sure that no one smokes in your home. Away from home, stay in smoke-free environments.
  • Breast-feed your baby. If possible, breast-feed your baby for at least six months. Breast milk contains antibodies that may offer protection from ear infections.
  • If you bottle-feed, hold your baby in an upright position. Avoid propping a bottle in your baby’s mouth while he or she is lying down. Don’t put bottles in the crib with your baby.
  • Talk to your doctor about vaccinations. Ask your doctor about what vaccinations are appropriate for your child. Seasonal flu shots, pneumococcal and other bacterial vaccines may help prevent ear infections.

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