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Middle ear infection

Infection of the ear or acute otitis media is usually caused by bacteria or viral infections affecting the middle ear which is the air-filled space found behind the eardrum that has small vibrating bones of the ear. In most cases, children are most susceptible to these infections than adults. Infections of the ear cause pain due to accumulation of fluids and inflammation in the middle ear.

Symptoms

  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Ear pain especially when lying down
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Fever of 100 degrees F or 38 degrees C or even higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Difficulty in responding to sounds and becoming irritable

If the symptoms last for more than one day or there is severe pain in the ear and discharge of fluid with presence of pus or blood, seek medical help immediately.

Middle ear infection

Headache is one of the symptoms of a middle ear infection.

Causes

The middle ear is connected to the throat by a canal which is called the Eustachian tube which helps regulate air pressure in the middle ear and drain normal secretions. An allergy or a cold can cause irritation of the Eustachian tube and cause the area around it to swell up and prevents the fluid from draining. The fluids can accumulate behind the eardrum where bacteria and viruses can grow and cause middle ear infection.

Adenoids are tiny pads of tissues found at the back of the nose that are also susceptible to infection and inflammation. They are found close to the opening of the Eustachian tubes. When these adenoids becomes enlarged or inflamed, it causes blockage of the Eustachian tubes and can trigger the development of middle ear infection. Children are more prone to this condition because they have large adenoids.

Other causes of middle ear infection include the accumulation of ear wax, food allergies, environmental allergies, nutritional deficiencies, internal injuries and genetics.

Treatment

  • Place a warm compress or moist washcloth over the affected ear at least 5 minutes in order to lessen the pain. Another way is to press a warm water bottle or a heating pad against the affected ear. Just remember to avoid applying heat on the ear for long periods of time.
  • Take the prescribed pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen in order to minimize the pain.
  • Heat a cup of salt in a pan using low heat for a few minutes and then place it on a clean cloth and seal the open end using a rubber band or tie a knot. While the salt is still hot, lay down and place the cloth on the affected ear at least for 5 to 10 minutes several times every day. The heat coming from the sock helps in drawing out accumulated fluid inside the ear and also helps to lessen pain and swelling. Another way, a cup or rice can also be used as an alternative for salt.

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