Ear Infections

More than 80% of children will have an ear infection before they turn three. Our team of Indiana-based ear, nose, and throat doctors at Otolaryngology Associates has years of experience diagnosing and treating ear infections in patients of all ages. 

If you or your child is experiencing ear pain, make an appointment at one of the clinics in Indianapolis, Greencastle, Greenfield, Kokomo, Noblesville, Carmel, Fishers, Avon, Greenwood, Mooresville, and Shelbyville, to get checked out. You can schedule an appointment at your preferred location by calling our office.

What is an ear infection?

An ear infection occurs when a bacteria or virus infects the air-filled space behind the eardrum. Ear infections can be acute (a one-off occurrence) or chronic, which means they are recurring or symptoms last for a longer period of time. If ear infections remain untreated, they can contribute to the development of medical conditions like hearing loss.

What causes an ear infection?

An ear infection is caused by bacteria or viruses that result from blockages of the eustachian tubes. The eustachian tubes are pathways that run from the middle ear to the back of the throat. They allow fluid in the ear to drain, but if they become swollen, the fluid remains in the ear. This fluid that builds up in the middle ear can accumulate bacteria and become infected. 

        Ear infection
        Several causes can create blockages of the eustachian tubes including the following:
        • Allergies
        • Changes in air pressure
        • Colds
        • Excess mucus
        • Sinus infection
        • Smoking
        • Swollen adenoids

              Though ear infections can occur at any age, children are more likely to experience them. Children have a shorter and narrower Eustachian tube, making it more prone to infection. In addition to age, other factors that can increase the risk of ear infection are changes to temperature and humidity, pacifier use, or a recent illness. Our team of providers at Otolaryngology Associates thoroughly assesses your infection so we can prescribe the best course of treatment.

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                    What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

                    An ear infection may come on quickly. Symptoms vary between children and adults and are usually more severe in children. If a younger child has an ear infection, you might see them tugging or pulling at their ear.

                    Adults typically experience ear pain, pressure inside the ear, trouble hearing, and fluid leaking from the ear. These symptoms can be constant or be experienced intermittently. 

                    Call the team at Otolaryngology Associates if ear pain lasts longer than 24 hours, if the pain is severe, or if you measure a fever over 102 F. For children younger than six months, see the doctor right away.

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                    Other signs to look out for include:

                    • Appetite loss
                    • Balance problems
                    • Crying more than usual
                    • Ear pain
                    • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
                    • Fluid leaking from the ear
                    • Fractiousness
                    • Headache
                    • Trouble hearing
                    • Trouble sleeping

                    What is the options for ear infection treatment?

                    Most ear infections improve after a day or two and usually clear completely after two weeks. For mild ear infections, the following self-managed treatment strategies can be useful:

                    • Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen which target and alleviate symptoms. 
                    • Holding a warm cloth over the affected ear can make you more comfortable.
                    • Using other over-the-counter medications like ear drops or decongestants to relieve pain and pressure. 

                    If the symptoms are severe, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics are typically prescribed if the ear infection is bacterial and symptoms are chronic. It is important to complete the full course to reduce the risk of the infection returning. When treating children, doctors often wait to see if symptoms do not ease within a few days before prescribing antibiotics. If at-home ear infection treatment methods and/or antibiotics are not alleviating symptoms or if ear infections are experienced chronically, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery. Surgical options include placing ear tubes in the eardrum to enable fluid to drain or creating a small incision in the eardrum to allow the fluid to drain. 

                    An ear infection is unpleasant, but not serious or threatening to health if caught early. If you have any concerns about your ear health, call the team at Otolaryngology Associates to schedule an appointment.

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                    Otolaryngology Associates provides top-quality Ear, Nose and Throat care from 13 full-service medical offices throughout central Indiana.
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