Most of us might have had an ear infection at some point in our lives. It is a very common problem and can be treated with medication. Usually, it takes somewhere between 1 to 6 weeks to recover depending on the severity of the infection.
The most common type of ear infection is a middle ear infection (the air-filled section of the ear just behind the eardrum). It can happen due to a bacterial or a viral infection. The inflammation and fluid buildup in the middle ear makes it quite painful.
Causes of ear infection
The invasion of the bacteria and virus in the middle ear results in an infection that in turn occurs due to another illness like cold, flu and allergy. It causes congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, eustachian tubes, and the throat.
The blockage of the Eustachian tube is the most common cause of ear infection. The Eustachian tube is the passage that continues from the back of the nose and the throat to the middle ear. The role of this tube is to regulate the air pressure in the middle ear and drain secretions from it. But if it gets blocked, the fluid and bacteria trapped inside it cause an infection.
This infection is more common in children as their Eustachian tube is narrower and has not yet developed a slant as in adults. However, this problem might persist into adulthood and can cause middle ear infection in adults.
Risk factors of ear infection
- Infants and toddlers between 6 months to 2 years are at a higher risk of ear infection
- Upper respiratory tract infection and prone to catching a cold often is also the cause of ear infection
- Allergies, specific allergens and hay fever can also cause ear infections
- Weakened immune system and sinus infections
- Smoking can also cause an ear infection
Symptoms of ear infection
Here are 5 surprising symptoms that might indicate an ear infection:
Ear infection symptoms do not also involve ear pain and pus secretion. Sometimes, the symptoms are beyond a simple earache.
Dizziness and vomiting
Who could have thought that feeling dizzy frequently can be due to ear infection? Ears are not just meant for hearing, they also play an important role in the balance systems. That is why you might feel dizzy several times in the day with occasional vomiting.
Another possible reason why you might feel dizzy is the virus that caused ear infection is affecting the entire body.
Change in appetite
Ear pain, nausea, feeling sick all of these combines can make your favourite food look unappetizing. If a cold has lead to ear infection, it affects the upper aerodigestive tract that blunts the ability to taste food. Ear infection can also cause painful chewing that affects your appetite.
Running a temperature/Fever
Having a fever can be a blessing at times since it indicates that your immune system is fighting hard to defeat the infection. Similarly with an ear infection, many get a temperature along with the ear infection. If your kid is younger than 6 months and has a fever along with crying and other signs of ear infection like being fussy, restless and touching the ear multiple times, you must visit a paediatrician.
Snoring is also another sign of ear infection that happens due to swollen adenoids.
Both children and adults can get an ear infection. It is important to recognize the symptoms and administer proper treatment. If the ear infection is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications like hearing loss, perforation of the eardrum, paralysis of the facial nerves, meningitis or Meniere’s disease.