Ear infection: symptoms, effects, and treatments

Experiencing an ear infection can be very upsetting. As with many other illnesses, an ear infection is difficult to cope with, especially if it’s acute. The pain can reach levels that don’t let you concentrate, work, study, or even sleep.

Exposure to mould in the location may cause ear infections, which occasionally result in hearing loss. Occasionally, it just holds on for a short period of time, but in some instances, the ear infections could go on and lead to permanent damage to your hearing. Ear infections and colds can also cause ringtones in the ears.

Mould exposure can cause fungal infections of the ear. Snoring disorders, such as bronchiolitis, can be helped by ear mold or other respiratory infections. For example, if you have a sinus infection or a severe throat infection, your ears may feel blocked, and you may not be able to hear as well as you normally do. The ears, nose, and throat are all connected, so infections in any of those areas will affect hearing.

Medically speaking, this type of infection affects the middle ear, that space behind the eardrum. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and change with age. Usually, children and toddlers are the ones who are affected the most, but adults may get serious ear infections as well. This is one of the main reasons why it’s essential to monitor the problem and take immediate action, if necessary. A prompt treatment can cure the infection or at least avoid further complications.

An ear infection derives from either bacteria or a virus. Usually it’s related to another illness, like a cold or an allergy, that causes congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat, and Eustachian tubes.

Often times, ear infections are just temporary and tend to clear up on their own, but if the pain persists, treatment is required. There are different types of treatments, depending on the severity, and it’s always good to reach out to a professional and get their opinion.

Let’s have a closer look at common symptoms and the actions that may be taken.

Ear infection symptoms

There are two main groups of symptoms, depending on if we are talking about a child or an adult.

Signs and symptoms that children usually suffer from are: ear pain that increases when lying down and that causes trouble sleeping; excessive crying; temporary hearing loss; consistent fever; balance problems; headache; nausea and loss of appetite; and fluid draining from the ears.

For adults, the most common symptoms are a lot of pain in the ear, fluid coming out of the ear, and trouble hearing.

When should you see a doctor?

An infection can lead to many different conditions, and only an accurate diagnosis can clear things up. Therefore, you should see a doctor if symptoms last more than a few days, if the pain is severe, or if you see fluids coming out of the ear. Most importantly, you should talk to your doctor if your child can’t sleep, especially if it’s a young problem, like if your toddler is less than 6 months old.

Effects caused by an ear infection

Most ear infections don’t have long-term effects. They can be painful but only last for a short time, or they can be chronic, which means that you should expect them to come back over time.

  • Damaged hearing. Mild ear infections can cause temporary and totally normal hearing loss, but it usually goes away as soon as the infection leaves the body. Chronic ear infections, meaning ones that recur over time, may lead to more serious hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss happens in the event of any permanent damage to any part of the ear.
  • Communication issues. During ear infections, children can experience temporary issues that can impact their communication and social skills: for examples of delays in speech
  • Diffusion of the infection. Ear infections that are not treated or that are treated too late can spread to nearby tissues. In serious cases, it causes bone damage, the formation of cysts full of pus, and meningitis.

Prevention, prevention, prevention!

Prevention here is a keyword. Some steps you might take to prevent an ear infection:

  • Prevent colds. Good hygiene norms, especially for children, are recommended in order to avoid common colds. Also, it would be preferable if your children did not share their glasses or cutlery and if they did cough or sneeze into their elbow. If possible, limit the time your child spends in childcare or school, especially during the cold season. Smaller settings are preferred, and it’d be better to keep children home when ill.
  • The age factor. Children aged 6 months to 2 years are more likely to get ear infections due to the size and shape of their Eustachian tubes. Also, their immune systems aren’t as strong as those of adults.
  • Avoid smoking and polluted environments whenever possible.
  • Infant feeding. Studies have demonstrated that babies who are fed from the bottle, especially while lying down, tend to have more ear infections. Another factor in favor of breast milk is that it contains antibodies that act as a shield against ear infections.
  • Seasonal factors. Ear infections are linked to seasonal factors and the allergy season. It’s good to ask your doctor about appropriate vaccinations.

Ear infection treatments

When visiting you, the doctor will often use a particular tool, the otoscope, to look in your ear, and they can decide to prescribe medicines for your ear infection.

Mild ear infections can be treated at home with painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen, a warm or cold flannel, and cotton wool to soak up any fluid.

Based on whether you have outer or inner ear infections and on the severity of the infection itself, antibiotics might be prescribed by the GP. They can be common antibiotics, antibiotic eardrops, steroid eardrops, antifungal eardrops, and antibiotic tablets.

Hearing aids: Your new listening experience

Whenever an ear infection causes mild to serious hearing loss, one of the best long-term solutions is to contact an expert and get tested to start using hearing aids.

These tests are run by trained hearing care professionals, and, depending on the results and several factors, they are going to guide you to the best-fitting solution for you.

There are many companies offering a wide range of options to their clients. Modern hearing aids come in different styles and colours and are designed to provide the best experience possible with the maximum discretion.
Nowadays, manufacturers, having studied and worked on these devices for years and years, can offer hearing aids that perfectly fit any ear’s anatomy, respecting people’s needs.

The latest innovations applied to this economic sector have brought new technical features, like invisibility and connectivity. In fact, it is possible to connect personal devices, such as mobile phones, to your hearing aids for a better experience.

In conclusion, if you have been exposed to mould and it has triggered a respiratory or ear infection that has affected your hearing, you should know that even with medical treatment, you may not recover if you continue to be exposed to mould. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor and stay away from mould to keep your health from getting worse.

Salvatore Turner