First, you feel a slight ache on the side of your head. Maybe your hearing gets a little wonky. All of a sudden, you can’t sleep at night because every toss and turn ends in excruciating pain, and the world sounds like it’s underwater.
You may have an ear infection.
While ear infections most definitely aren’t a pleasant experience, they’re usually short-lived if treated properly. Our own Dr. Michael Skardasis of Optimal Performance Medicine shares his expertise on ear infections, symptoms, and how to get rid of the dreaded things.
How do ear infections occur?
When people talk about ear infections, they’re usually talking about otitis media, or a middle ear infection. This kind of ear infection affects the area directly behind your eardrum and is usually caused by bacteria or viruses getting trapped there. The result is that familiar “plugged” feeling.
Adults can also get an outer ear infection called otitis externa. This usually occurs when germs spread inside the warm, wet environment of your ear canal, but can also occur in response to foreign objects in the ear, such as Q-tips or fingernails. Outer ear infections often present as an itchy rash on your ear.
Inner ear infections are the least common, and they usually refer to inflammation in the inner ear rather than a true infection. This kind of ear infection affects the parts of your ear responsible for balance, which can cause you to feel dizzy or nauseous.
Often, other illnesses can lead to ear infections, especially colds and the flu. Upper respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, sinus infections, or throat infections can also lead to ear infections. This happens because your respiratory and sinus passages are connected to the passageways in your ears.
Ear infection symptoms
Depending on which type of ear infection you have, you might have different symptoms. But in general, you can expect any of these symptoms:
- A clogged or plugged feeling in your ear
- Feeling as if you’re underwater
- Headache or migraine
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Pain inside or around your ear
- Discharge from the ear
- A rash or itchiness on or around your ear
- Difficulty hearing
Ear infection treatment
Treatment for ear infections depends on the cause. For example, if your infection is caused by a virus, it will probably clear up on its own, as most viruses can’t be treated or killed — they must run their course. If you have a virus, Dr. Skardasis might prescribe a medication to help manage symptoms until your body heals.
If your ear infection is the result of a bacterial or fungal infection, Dr. Skardasis may prescribe antibacterial or antifungal medication to kill the source of the infection. Usually, these medications come in the form of prescription ear drops. He might also recommend over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication to reduce symptoms while the infection clears.
Depending on your situation, Dr. Skardasis may also suggest drug-free treatments that help your body heal the ear infection on its own.
If you think you have an ear infection, call our clinic in Woodstock, Georgia, right away at 678-224-5406 or book an appointment online.