What Causes Ear Infections? How Do You Cure An Ear Infection?

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Bacteria and sometimes fungi can cause acute infections of the ear. Ear infection is caused by bacteria or, less commonly, fungi. To effectively check for ear infections, doctors examine the ear canal with an otoscope looking for redness, swelling, and pus.

Removing debris, using antibiotics, ear drops, avoiding water in the ear and using cotton swabs, and using painkillers are the most common forms of treatments. Ear infections can affect the entire ear canal as in generalized or acute otitis externa, or only a small area when pus accumulates and forms boils or papules. To learn in detail about various types of ear infections, carefully follow this article to end.

The Most Common Causes Of Ear Infections: You Must Know

Several bacteria such as pseudomonas aeruginosa or staphylococcus aureus can infect the ear canal. Fungal infections of the ear canal (otomycosis) usually caused by aspergillus niga or candida albicans, is less common. Boils are usually caused by staphylococcus aureus. Certain people, particularly those suffering from allergies, those with psoriasis, eczema or seborrheic dermatitis, are particularly predisposed to acute otitis externa. Typical symptoms are pain and discharge from the ear.

Causes Of Ear Infections

Various Types Of Ear Infections

Perforation Of The Tympanum

The eardrum, the membrane that connects to the middle ear can easily become perforated. Noise, trauma, barotrauma, insertion of an object into the ear, or infection are the major causes, the causes are varied. Once perforated, the membrane can recover on its own, otherwise, you will have to undergo surgery to repair the eardrum.

Tinnitus

Permanent tinnitus is constant ringing or buzzing heard only by the patient. They generally occur following sound trauma or accompany presbycusis. This pathology can not be cured, on the other hand, there are solutions to relieve tinnitus such as hearing aid and sophrology.

Hyperacusis

Is a condition of the hearing system that lowers the threshold of tolerance to sounds. Depending on the intensity, this hypersensitivity can be more or less significant, or even painful. It can occur suddenly following sound or psychological trauma, but also following other medical events ( head trauma, surgery, facial paralysis, etc). There is currently no treatment to treat hyperacusis.

Certain approaches nevertheless make it possible to relieve the symptoms,or even obtain a reduction in the intensity of the symptoms. For example, CBT ( Cognitive behavioral therapy) gradual desensitization therapy, sophrology, or hearing aids.

Otospongiosis

Is a damage to middle ear and its chain of ossicles, often hereditary, this affects women more, between the ages of 20 and 40. This pathology results in poor quality bone development of the ossicles chain, particularly, the stapes. This metabolic malformation disrupts the transmission of sound to the inner ear. It causes conductive deafness, or even mixed deafness when it affects the inner ear in the most advanced cases.

Acoustic Neuroma 

Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that develops on the auditory nerve and compresses it as it progresses. Causing among other complications, hearing loss, depending on its size and growth. Surgery or radiotherapy may be considered to treat it

Vestibular Disorder

Vestibular disorder concerns pathologies that affect the vestibule located in the inner ear. This organ, which is central in the management of balance, can be disrupted and cause chronic disorders such as Meniere's disease. This vestibular disorder, the best known, is accompanied by attacks of dizziness, tinnitus and nausea caused according to researchers by a large quantity of endolymph ( endolymphatic hydrops)

Diagnosis Of Ear Infections

Sometimes, doctors based their diagnosis of  ear infections on symptoms and an examination of the ear canal. When doctors look at the ear canal using an otoscope (a device that allows you to see the external ear canal and the eardrum), the skin in the ear canal appears red and swollen and may be riddled with pus and debris.

An infection caused by fungus is also diagnosed by performing an exam or culture (a sample of pus and debris is grown in the laboratory to identify the microorganisms present). Sometimes, fungus spores are visible in the ear canal

Prevention Of Ear Infections

Swimmer's ear can be prevented by instilling drops of a solution containing equal parts denatured alcohol and vinegar ( acetic acid) into the ear immediately after swimming ( provided there is no presence of hole( perforation) in the eardrum.

It is strongly discouraged to clean the ear canal with cotton swabs, or other objects, as this can interrupt the ear normal self cleaning mechanism and push debris and earwax further inside. Likewise, it can result in minor injury to the delicate skin of the duct, representing an ideal site for bacteria to grow and cause infection.

Treatment Of Ear Infections

  • Removing infected debris from the ear canal and drying the ear carefully
  • Ear drop containing vinegar and corticosteroids
  • Sometimes, ear drops containing antibiotics
  • Rarely, oral antibiotics can be used 

To treat ear canal infection.from any cause, doctors first remove infected debris from the canal using a suction device or dried cotton swabs, once the canal is cleared, hearing often return to normal

Typically, ear drops containing white vinegar and corticosteroids drops, such hydrocortisone or dexamethasone, are prescribed for people with mild ear canal infections several times a day for up to a week. White vinegar is useful because bacteria can no longer spread once the normal acidity of the outer ear is restored

In moderate or severe infections, antibiotics ear drops are also prescribed, if the canal is very swollen, doctors insert a small ear wick to allow the antibiotics/ steroids drops to enter. The wick is left in place for 24 to 72 hours, after which the swelling may have diminished enough to allow the drops to be placed directly into the ear canal.

Treatment Of Ear Infections

The Bottom Line

For both bacteria and fungal infections, people should try to keep their ear dry by implementing certain precautions (such as wearing a shower cap and avoiding swimming) until the infection clears up. A dryer on low heat can also be used to reduce humidity inside the duct .

Treatment of boils depends on the severity of the infectious condition. At an early stage of Infection, a warmer may be applied briefly, and painkillers such as oxycodone with paracetamol may be prescribed for pain. Heat can also help speed healing. Antibiotics can also be administered orally. Any ear complications whatsoever experienced must be taken care of under the watch of a health. professional.

Also Read:- How Can I Improve My Heart Health Naturally? Keep Your Heart Stronger

References:

  1. Ear infections in children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/ear-infections-children. Accessed March 19, 2019.
  2. Rosenfeld RM, Tunkel DE, Schwartz SR, et al. Clinical practice guideline: tympanostomy tubes in children (update) (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35138954/)Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022;166(1_suppl):S1-S55.Accessed 6/6/2023.
  3. Antibiotic prescribing and use: Ear infection. (2021).
    https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/ear-infection.html

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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