Ear Infections – As a parent, you never want to see your children suffer or in pain. One of the most stressful, common problems that your children face is an ear infection. It’s especially upsetting with infants when they can’t tell you they are hurting or what’s wrong. An ear infection can cause intense pain that results in tears, rushed visits to the doctor’s office, and hope of finding a remedy as soon as possible. You know this problem is common with children. You wonder if children are the only ones who are prone to having ear infections.
Children are Most Likely to Come Down with an Ear Infections
According to WebMD, a child with an ear infection adds up to at least 25 million visits to a clinic or doctor for medical treatment every year. The Cleveland Clinic notes that most of these cases strike children who are as young as three months old up to the age of three. However, this common malady is common in children up to the age of eight. After that point, incidences of infections involving the ear tend to drop off. A study in the Periodical of American Medicine even suggested that some children are genetically prone to suffering from an ear infection, noting that this problem occurred more often with identical twins with the same genetic makeup. If researchers can prove that genetics could be a root cause for a higher rate of infection in the ear, it could help physicians to head trouble off at the pass before infections occur.
When is an Ear Infections More Likely to Occur?
Ear infection season typically occurs during the winter. This is the season flu, colds, and other airborne illnesses. People are stuck inside, often in close contact with one another. They are more likely to catch viral infections that can spread easily. Viruses that affect the respiratory system, especially the nose and throat, often cause congestion. This congestion can lead to inflammation in the middle ear or bacterial infection. Allergies can also cause congestion and swelling of the eustachian tubes that run between the back of the throat and middle ear. Anyone who suffers from environmental or seasonal allergies may also suffer an ear infection on a chronic basis.
Some Adults are Prone to Infections Involving the Ear
While it is not as common, roughly 20% of cases involving an ear infection to affect adults. When looking at who is more prone to an ear infection as an adult, it typically strikes those who:
- Suffer from allergies during different seasons or based on environmental factors
- Suffer from respiratory issues or have colds often
- Choose to smoke or are exposed to people who smoke
The most typical symptoms of an ear infection include an earache, hearing that has becomes muffled, and fluid draining from the infected ear. In some cases, adults may have a sore throat that accompanies their other symptoms.
An Untreated Ear Infection Can Have Serious Ramifications for Adults
Adults can suffer from severe consequences if a chronic ear infection if the issue is not resolved. In some cases, it can result in permanent hearing lost. In worst case scenarios, the infection beginning in the ear can travel to other areas, especially parts of the head. Some people have suffered paralysis in their facial nerves. It is not a problem to be taken lightly. Hearing loss can result for children who do not have the problem resolved as well.
How to Treat an Ear Infection
Most of the times, children and adults will respond well to home remedies for an ear infection. The first step may be to try taking over the counter medications, such as pain relievers, fever reducers, allergy medications, and decongestants. People who suffer from allergies should say on top of their allergy symptoms, taking medication regularly to avoid congestion. They can also do their best to avoid exacerbating their allergies by avoiding their triggers. Taking steps to control the environment can help as well, such as keeping windows closed during pollen season or using an air purifier to keep down dust. If home remedies don’t work, prescription medication is usually the next step. Doctors may prescribe either drops or oral antibiotics.
When to See a Medical Professional About an Ear Infection
Time is the best rule of thumb to go by when it comes to seeking medical advice about an ear infection in adults or children. If you have tried home remedies for three days without any success, make an appointment to see your doctor or head to an urgent care clinic. If you notice any swelling around the ear, such as behind the ear or in the ear lobes, it’s time to seek help from an medical professional. Severe cases could lead to an abscess in the brain or meningitis if they are not resolved promptly. High fevers could mean something more serious is brewing. As, you or your child should see a doctor to get to the root cause of your condition. This is also the best way to get the right treatment plan. If you or your child experience problems with balance or hearing, see a doctor. Pus, blood, or other types of discharge suggest the ear infection is severe and should be treated by a professional.
Don’t Be Afraid to be Cautious
The most essential thing you need to remember is to follow your instincts when it comes to an ear infection. If you have any concerns about your child or yourself, see your primary care provider or go to your local urgent care. Find out what you can do to be proactive in hopes of preventing a chronic problem with infections in the ear. You are in control of your health and the health of your child. Be your own advocate and ask for answers. You’ll be protecting yourself or your child from pain and serious consequences.