It is very common for children to get several ear infections as their bodies are developing. Adults may also get ear infections and for some they may be chronic. The infections can occur in the outer ear, middle ear...on the other side of the eardrum or in the inner ear where all your hearing hairs are located. Ear infections are not contagious but if a cold develops due to the existence of the ear infection, then the cold can be contagious. In turn, getting a cold or the flu can end up turning into an ear infection because the bacteria can get stuck in the Eustachian tubes. These tubes are what controls the pressure in the ear. They connect from the ear to the nose and the throat and keep everything moving properly. They are also one of the reasons children get so many ear infections, because they are not fully developed.
Some people are more at risk for developing an ear infection that others. People with diabetes or weakened immune systems have a greater chance of getting an ear infection. Skin conditions, such as, psoriasis and eczema also increase the risk of an ear infection. Smoking increases the risk of an ear infection dramatically. This is true even if you are NOT the smoker...that you are just around smokers. It directly damages the soft tissues in the ear and nose. Smoking decreases the body’s immune system’s ability to fight. It makes the body less effective, and it generates inflammation. If you swim a lot, then the risk increases also. Water sits in the ear canal, and it is the perfect place for germs to grow. It is dark, warm, and sticky wax helps to keep the ear canal moist and dark.
An ear infection may go away on its own. Taking Tylenol ™ or ibuprofen may help treat the pain that comes with an ear infection. Decongestants or antihistamines may also help alleviate some symptoms. These medicines will not make the infection go away. It is your body that needs to fight of the infection. If your body can not overcome the infection, then pain will persist and get worse. If pain persists more than 2 - 3 days or discharge from the ear canal is present then you should see an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor. Usually, if antibiotics are prescribed then it will be in the form of Ear Drops. An ear infection that is not dealt with properly can cause hearing loss and irreplaceable damage to your ears ability to function.
It is important to keep your ears healthy. If you smoke... Stop. If you swim...dry your ears out. If you know that you have no holes in your eardrums, then you can put a few drops of an alcohol/white vinegar mixture in after swimming. (50% each; white vinegar & rubbing alcohol). Use an eye dropper after swimming or showering IF you have a history of water getting stuck in your ear. It is always best to check with your doctor for his approval. Don’t use objects to clean out your ears. You can’t see what you are doing; thus, you can’t see if you are causing damage. Keep your fingers out of your ears too! If you wear a hearing instrument, then cleaning properly with sanitizer sprays available from our office helps to prevent germs that are on the plastic from entering your ear canal. With all germs and infectious diseases...Regular HAND WASHING can help prevent germs from spreading. Anyone experiencing numbness, pain or discharge should seek a Hearing Health Care Professional for diagnosis and treatment options. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! To Hear Better Is To Live Better!