It is state of discomfort or uneasiness inside the ear with pain or itching, sometimes fluid drainage can be observed. Ear infections are mostly seen in children compared to adults, as their eustachian tube will be shorter and horizontal whereas in adults it is slopy which opens into the back of nose and throat. The Ear, an important sense organ consists of three parts. External ear, Middle ear and internal ear.
- The External Ear consists of Ear pinna (Auricles) made of cartilaginous bone and Ear canal (External Auditory Meatus) extending from outer ear to middle ear.
- Middle Ear consists of delicate tympanic membrane and tympanic cavity with three bones. Those are Maleus, Incus and Stapes of which stapes is the smallest bone in the human body.
- Internal Ear consists of Vestibule, Cochlea and Eustachian tube which innervates into the back of nose and throat.
Types of Ear infection
Based on their structure the infection can occur in different parts.
- External Ear Infection, also called swimmer’s Ear as the infection caused due to frequent swimming which can accumulate water inside the ear. Sometimes swimming in unhygienic water contaminated with bacteria, injury etc., also causes outer ear infection. Moist conditions in ear favors bacterial growth leading to infections.
- Middle Ear Infection, it is the most common ear infection seen mainly in children.It is also called Otitis media caused due to the inflammation of middle ear. This could be because of Cold, Flu, Respiratory tract infection, throat infections etc.,
- Inner Ear Infection, an inflammation of inner ear either due to labyrynthitis or vestibular neuritis. Symptoms include Nausea, vomiting, dizziness and Vertigo (spinning sensation and losing one’s balance).
- Mastoiditis, an infection and inflammation of mastoid bone and air space leading to blockage.It is mainly due to middle ear infection which extends towards mastoid process.
- Meningitis, an inflammation of meninges of brain caused due to bacterial infection from ear has passed onto the protective tissue layers (meninges) dura, pia and arachnoid maters of brain.
- Ruptured Ear Drum, ear drum also called tympanum,a perforated structure located between external and middle ear is very delicate and sensitive. It gets ruptured by loud sounds, foreign object in ear, middle ear infections,rapid pressure changes etc., which causes fluid drainage, hearing loss, tinnitus(ringing sensation) etc.,Normally it can heal itself within few weeks, if not surgery may be needed.
Causes of Ear infection
- Majorly bacterial or viral infections occur inside the ears during moist conditions which faours their growth.
- Swimmer’s ear is such type as bacterial infection occurs as the ear has moist condition. It will extend from external ear to middle ear and finally enters inner ear through the Eustachian tube.
- Travelling through different climatic conditions and higher pressures also causes redness and inflammation inside the ear.
- Common cold, flu, Excessive mucous secretion, Respiratory tract infections are a few risk factors involved in ear infections.
- Horizontal/ less slopy, Smaller Eustachian tubes are more susceptible to infections. Hence children are more frequently affected with ear infections.
- Blockage of Eustachian tube with fluid or mucous impairs hearing as the air can’t passed into the inner ear and vestibule.
- Allergies are the major cause of ear infections.Bacteria may enter brain causing meningitis.
- Second hand smoking also causes ear infections.
- Discomfort,uneasiness in ear
- Itching sensation deep inside the ear
- Mild or Severe Pain
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Dizzness and Vertigo
- Fullness in Ears
- Tinnitus (Ringing sensation)
- Fluid Drainage from ears
- Impaired hearing
- Fluid or mucous accumulation or blockage
- Tenderness inside the ears
- Ear become red and swollen
- Inflammation in the ears
- Pneumatic Otoscope – Can observe the fluid accumulated in the middle ear. A gentle air blow will move the tympanum, if fluid is present tympanum will move little or no movement observed with otoscope.
- Tympanometry – Measures the ear drum movement by adjusting the air pressure and clearing the ear canal.
- CT(computed tomography) Scan – To test whether the bacterial infection has spread beyond the middle ear and has spreaded to inner parts like mastoid and head.
- Tymapanocentesis – Procedure to drain fluid from middle ear by piercing a tiny tube through tympanum.
- Pain relievers, like Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen etc., reduces pain and inflammation. Hence these were preferred during severe pain conditions.
- Antibiotics, were used against bacterial infections and these have to be taken after having confirmation of infection. Otherwise side effects will arise or sometimes may produce resistance against antibiotics.
- Antiviral drugs will be prescribed if the infection is caused by virus.
- Ear drops, may be advantageous for mild infections and generally prescribed for most of the ear problems.
- Myringotomy, a surgical procedure in which a tiny hole or incission is made into the tympanum or ear drum either to drain the fluid and pus or to relieve the pressure created by excess fluid accumulation in the middle ear.
- One or two drops of Warm Olive oil and garlic oil into the ear acts as antibacterial.
- Few drops of onion juice
- Apple cidar vinegar
- Warm compress with salt water
- Warm Tea tree oil can be used for hot compress or taken into the ear as drops.
- Few drops of warm coconut oil
- A few drops of Hydrogen peroxide
- Few drops of warm crushed Basil leaves juice
- Few drops of warm Eucalyptus oil
- A few drops Breast milk with dropper acts as best antibodies against infections.
- Cut down allergic food or cause of allergy.
Ear one of the sense organ involved in sensory response that is hearing. Bacterial and viral infections are more susceptible to grow under moist conditions.Hence always maintain hygienic environment in the ear and avoid allergic conditions. Stay sound and Healthy.