Ear infections are an annoyance that affects millions every year, and often more than once. It is estimated that the cost of treating middle ear infections in the U.S. is more than $2 billion a year. A middle ear infection is an infection in the area right behind your eardrum.
Generally, if you have an ear infection, you see a doctor. Preferably an ENT, or ear nose and throat specialist. An ENT doctor is someone that, obviously, specializes in the treatment and understanding of the ear nose and throat.
But when do you need to see an ENT? What are the symptoms of an ear infection?
There are many symptoms of ear infections, as there are three different types of infections that can be had. These are inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear infections.
Inner Ear Infection
An inner ear infection can often be a case of inflammation, not infection, and also can be associated with meningitis. The symptoms, outside of pain, are dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
Middle Ear Infection
A middle ear infection, also known as otitis media, is caused by fluid trapped behind the eardrum. This causes the eardrum to bulge, and leads to an earache, a sense fullness in your ear, and have some fluid drainage from the affected ear.
It can also with a fever. There might also be trouble hearing until the infection starts to clear.
Outer Ear Infection
An outer ear infection, also known as otitis externa, is one that takes place in the part of your ear that extends from the eardrum to the outside of your head. An outer ear infection often starts as an itchy rash, but progressively gets worse. It can lead to the ear being painful, tender, red, and swollen.
Generally, ear infections are due to bacterial infections in the ear. A middle ear infection can occur from a cold, and an outer ear infection starts as a result of fluid remaining in the ear after swimming or bathing, which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
Thankfully, most cases of an ear infection will not require an ear nose and throat surgeon. A simple prescription of antibiotics and draining of any fluid from the ear will be sufficient to help recover. If it's viral, medicine and proper cleaning and rest will be enough to beat the infection.
If you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor to ensure you get the care needed.