The most common symptom of an ear infection is pain. It can be challenging to identify a potential ear infection in infants because they’re unable to communicate where their pain is located. In infants, the ear may be red or warm to the touch, there might be discharge coming from the ear, and the infant might cry and tug at or touch their ear or near their ear. Sometimes fever accompanies an ear infection, and older children may feel as if their ear has popped or they’re hearing as if they’re under water. In some cases, blood may drain from the ear.
Ear infections can be incredibly painful and result in long-term hearing loss if left untreated. Treatment should be sought as soon as an ear infection is suspected.
In most cases, a narrowing of the passageways in the ear canal prevent adequate drainage and cause fluid buildup, which in turn causes ear infections. The most common causes of narrowing passageways include:
Ear infections are caused by bacteria and treated with antibiotics. Numbing drops may also be used to alleviate pain associated with ear infections.
Untreated ear infections can eventually cause ruptured eardrums and temporary or permanent hearing loss. It’s important to seek treatment for ear infections and share concerns about chronic ear infections with a qualified pediatrician to protect long-term hearing.
Generally speaking, yes. It’s not recommended that antibiotics are used on a long-term basis, so children who develop ear infections that are either resistant to antibiotics or frequently requiring antibiotics often need a different treatment approach. In these cases, small tubes can be surgically inserted into the eardrum to open narrow passageways and allow adequate drainage from the ear. This can decrease the risk of future ear infections and related complications.
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