A middle ear infection typically affects children below 8 years of age. The middle ear is the region behind the eardrum.
An ear infection typically starts with a viral infection of the throat and nose. Common cold might trigger an ear infection. An infection can also develop if an individual has allergies. A viral infection or an allergic response by the body can trigger swelling of the Eustachian tube which traps bacteria in the middle ear which leads to the development of a bacterial infection.
The pressure due to the accumulation of fluid or pus inside the ear oftentimes leads to the rupture of the eardrum.
What are the indications?
An individual with a middle ear infection might have one or several of these symptoms:
- Hearing loss
- Ear pain
- Blocked sensation in the ear
Management of a middle ear infection
- The doctor might suggest waiting for 1-3 days to check if the symptoms of a middle ear infection settle on their own before antibiotics are prescribed.
- A decongestant might be recommended in oral or nasal form to clear up the Eustachian tube. This helps lessen the pressure in the middle ear.
- An over-the-counter pain medication might be given for relief to the pain. The dosage instructions must be strictly followed.
Other self-care measures include:
- Applying a warm compress or hot water bottle over the affected ear
- If there is ear discharge, wipe it away with a towel or cloth and loosely plug the ear with cotton to catch additional drainage.
- For fever, the individual should rest until the temperature drops below 100 degrees F.