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Calendar >  Healthy Community Healthy You – Ear Infections – Protect Your Hearing

Healthy Community Healthy You – Ear Infections – Protect Your Hearing

By   /  March 30, 2024  /  No Comments

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough – Discomfort in the ear be it pain, pus, drainage, pressure, and/or hearing loss, can be symptoms of an ear infection. The infection can be in the middle part (behind the eardrum), or more towards the inner or outer part of the ear. Ear infections can clear up on their own and be present for only an acute period of time until the inflammation/fluid subsides, or the infection can be chronic.

Ear infections can be bacterial or viral. The infection affects the Eustachian tubes which are small and run from the ears to the back of the throat. Having an infection creates blockage in these tubes which is the buildup of fluid. Another cause can be from having infected adenoids. These are the glands at the roof of the mouth and behind the nose. Infections in the adenoids can spread to the Eustachian tubes. The tubes can get blocked from allergies, colds, sinus infections, smoking, and/or air pressure.

Children have a higher frequency of ear infections, and about 80% will have one at some point. It has also been found that babies who are bottle-fed have a higher amount of ear infections compared to babies who are breast fed.

The problem with ear infections is that they can have long term consequences if not treated or if they persist. Some of the side effects can be hearing loss, speech/language delay in children, eardrum damage, and/or meningitis. For treatment, sometimes starting with home remedies can do the trick. If not, seeking medical care is recommended. At home, you can use a warm cloth on the ear and take over-the-counter ear drops, take pain relievers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen, take Sudafed, and you should sleep on the side the ear is not on. If these methods don’t work, a doctor can prescribe antibiotics if it is a bacterial infection not viral. If these usual treatment options don’t work, surgery may be needed. This can involve inserting tubes to drain the fluid out. They’re inserted into the eardrum. Over time they will fall out and the insertion holes heal. Another form of surgery is called myringotomy, which is done by having holes made in the eardrums themselves for drainage. Then the insertion holes heal. Finally, having your adenoids
removed is another option.

We value the ability to hear all the noises of this world. Taking our hearing away would certainly make life difficult, so when an ear infection strikes, address the issue. If the infection doesn’t go away and/or continues to strike, seek medical attention. Fixing the problem and following medical directions is far easier than losing your hearing and other ear infection associated problems.

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