Anyone can get an ear infection, but the condition impacts children the most. In fact, five out of six kids get an ear infection before they even turn three years old. At International Medical Clinics (IMC) in Atlanta, adults and children alike can receive expert care for their ear infections if the symptoms don’t improve on their own. If you’d like to talk to a doctor more about ear infections or find out if you or your child has one, call IMC, or book your visit online today.
What are ear infections?
Your ear is a delicate and complex organ. Part of your ear, called the middle ear, is a space behind your eardrum that is filled with air and small, vibrating bones that allow you to hear sounds. When your middle ear gets infected and inflamed, you have an ear infection.
During an ear infection, fluid builds up in your middle ear and places pressure on your eardrum. This causes the condition’s signature pressure and pain. Despite their discomfort, most ear infections clear up by themselves without any help from a doctor.
What does an ear infection feel like?
Ear infections in adults are simple: They feel like heavy pressure in your ear with the sensation of having water stuck in your ears after swimming underwater. You might also have a hard time hearing through the infected ear.
Children, however, experience many more symptoms with their ear infections, and they usually come on quickly and without much warning. Symptoms include:
- Tugging or pulling sensations on their ears
- Trouble with balance
- Trouble hearing
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Patients who are especially prone to ear infections and get them often are at risk of losing their hearing permanently and other more serious issues.
When should I bring an ear infection to the doctor?
Since most ear infections go away without professional medical intervention, only certain cases need attention from a doctor. You should visit IMC for treatment of an ear infection if:
- It’s in a child younger than six months
- Your symptoms last longer than one day
- Your pain is severe
- You see fluid or blood coming out of your or your child’s ear
Before visiting a doctor, you can ease the symptoms of an ear infection by holding a warm towel or other compress to the affected ear. You can also take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen to relieve your discomfort.
How are ear infections treated?
If your ear infection requires a visit to your doctor, he or she will decide how to treat it depending on you or your child’s age and the ear infection’s severity.
For some persistent ear infection cases, your doctor prescribes antibiotics to fight the bacteria causing it.