Did you know...

     An ear infection (acute otitis media) is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections.

     Ear infections frequently are painful because of inflammation and buildup of fluids in the middle ear. Because ear infections often clear up on their own, treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring the problem. Ear infection in infants and severe cases in general often require antibiotic medications. Long-term problems related to ear infections — persistent fluids in the middle ear, persistent infections or frequent infections — can cause hearing problems and other serious complications.

 

Signs and symptoms common in children include:

  • Ear pain, especially when lying down

  • Tugging or pulling at an ear

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Crying more than usual

  • Acting more irritable than usual

  • Difficulty hearing or responding to sounds

  • Loss of balance

  • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher

  • Drainage of fluid from the ear

  • Headache

  • Loss of appetite

 

Signs and symptoms common in adults include:

  • Ear pain

  • Drainage of fluid from the ear

  • Diminshed hearing

Signs and symptoms of an ear infection can indicate a number of conditions. It's important to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. Call your child's doctor if:

  • Symptoms last for more than a day

  • Ear pain is severe

  • Your infant or toddler is sleepless or irritable after a cold or other upper respiratory infection

  • You observe a discharge of fluid, pus or bloody discharge from the ear

An adult with ear pain or discharge should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Children...

Adults...

When to see a doctor...

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

Causes...

    

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. The throat end of the tubes open and close to:

  • Regulate air pressure in the middle ear

  • Refresh air in the ear

  • Drain normal secretions from the middle ear

Swelling, inflammation and mucus in the eustachian tubes from an upper respiratory infection or allergy can block them, causing the accumulation of fluids in the middle ear. A bacterial or viral infection of this fluid is usually what produces the symptoms of an ear infection.

Ear infections are more common in children, in part, because their eustachian tubes are narrower and more horizontal — factors that make them more difficult to drain and more likely to get clogged.

Eustachian tubes...

An ear, nose and throat specialist is a physican concerned with the medical and surgical treatment of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck.

901 Leighton Avenue Anniston, AL 36207 Phone: (256) 238-0200 Fax: (256) 236-8007

Dr. Blane E. Bateman of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Inc. Dedicated to the care of the ears, nose and throat, and related structures of the head and neck.