New Year, Same Old Ear Infections

ENT physician looking into patients ear with an instrument

If you have children, they have ear infections. The two simply go together, especially when the kids are younger. While we associate ear infections with children, adults can get them as well.

In this first blog of 2022 for Dr. Volpi, let’s get into this chronic source of pain.

What is an ear infection?

An ear infection is an infection in the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. Most ear infections will run their course and resolve on their own, so Dr. Volpi focuses treatment on managing the pain and keeping an eye on the infection. He may use antibiotics to clear the infection.

The problem with ear infections is when a person continues to develop new infections, as this can lead to hearing problems and other complications.

What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

When a person develops an ear infection, symptoms show quite quickly. They vary somewhat in children and adults.

Symptoms of an ear infection in a child:

  • Ear pain, especially when lying down
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fussiness
  • Trouble hearing or responding to sounds
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever of 100 F or higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite

Adult symptoms

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Hearing issues

What leads to an ear infection?

Ear infections are caused by bacteria or a virus in the middle ear. This infection often results from another illness — cold, flu, allergy — that causes congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat, and the eustachian tubes.

The eustachian tubes play a key role. The eustachian tubes are a pair of narrow tubes that run from each middle ear to high in the back of the throat, behind the nasal passages. These tubes regular air pressure in the ear, refresh the air in the ear, and drain normal secretions from the middle ear. When the eustachian tubes become blocked, this causes fluids to build up in the middle ear, where an infection then develops.

It’s important to see Dr. Volpi at New York ENT if you or your child have ear infection symptoms that last for more than a day. He can treat the infection before it becomes severe. Call us at New York ENT, (212) 873-6036, to schedule an appointment.

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