What are ear infections?
Ear infections (Otitis media) are generally considered to be infections where the middle ear is affected, mainly referring to the eardrum and the area behind the eardrum. The best treatment for ear infections can come in a few different forms, of which we will go into detail in this article.
It is often termed “acute otitis media”, and is classified and treated in a different manner than “otitis externa”, which refers to an infection affecting the ear canal. It is most often the result of a bacterium and most frequently occurs amongst children, either as a byproduct of the common cold or due to exposure to other children.
What are the causes of ear infections?
As mentioned bacterium in the middle ear region can cause an infection which often spreads from the Eustachian tube, which is an air channel between the nose and the middle ear and which when functioning correctly ensure that the middle ear is ventilated. The infection is more likely to occur and spread if the Eustachian tube is small or not functioning efficiently which is much more likely in the case of small children. When a child has a cold the middle ear space behind the ear drum which is normally filled with air can become clogged with mucus, and the bacterium in that mucus causes the infection. While ear infections can also sometimes occur as a concomitant of measles, sometimes an infection will occur without being accompanied by any other symptoms.
What are the symptoms of ear infections?
The symptoms vary in severity in different ear infections dependent on the extent of the underlying causes and will include acute pain the in ear area which often causes a general discomfiture around the head area. Earache in some cases does not occur at all, despite the other symptoms being in evidence. Hearing is often diminished to varying degrees. In some cases the child or individal can be feverish, with high temperature, and sometimes nausea/vomiting. If it is a young baby that is suffering from the symptoms then clearly they are unable to identify the issue and the accompanying symptoms as well as the fact of a baby in some distress may point a parent to recognising the source of the problem. Under some circumstances an earache can be the result of what’s known as a “referred pain” from other regions in the head such as teething/toothache.
In rare cases an ear infection may lead to the perforation of the eardrum which causes the infected mucus to be unleashed and for the ear to excrete a discharge for a period of time. A perforated eardrum will normally heal within a few weeks after the infection has been expunged.
What is the best treatment for ear infections?
In most cases of ear infections over-the-counter anagesics can be adminstered such as paracetamol, or inuprofen, or in the case of children tailored products such as calpol or nurofen in order to nullify the acute pain that may be suffered by the individual. Other appropriate treatments can be decongestants such as nose drops which are available over-the-counter which act to clear the respiratory system and thereby relieve pressure on the middle ear. If the symptoms are particularly severe a general practitioner or physician should be consulted who may in some circumstances prescribe anti-biotics if it is established that the underlying cause is bacteria in the middle ear area. However, it has been observed that antibiotics often have limited benefit to address the underlying causes of ear infections due to the distinction between bacterial and viral infections, and it is often important merely to seek to ameliorate the symptoms while allowing the infection to run its course.
Where can I find the best treatment for ear infections?
All the above treatments can be found in your local chemist (some will require a prescription), however, it is our recommendation to you to always consult with your local GP before undertaking any final treatment.
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