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Symptoms and Treatment of Ear Infections

Child Touching Ear

Infections within the ear can have a severe impact on one’s overall health and on one’s ability to hear properly. They can affect several different areas of the ear, including the eardrum, the middle ear, and the ear canal. Hence, infections in the ear ultimately lead to pain, hearing loss and other similar forms of discomfort. Treatments, symptoms, and prognosis can vary depending on the infection.

Common Symptoms of Ear Infections

Earaches and other types of pain in the ears can be a symptom of ear infection. One might also experience tinnitus (a ringing or similar persistent “sound” that only the sufferer can hear in the infected ears), nausea, vomiting, vertigo, dizziness, discharge from the ear, a feeling of “fullness” in the ear, and hearing loss. While these symptoms may occur in any combination regardless of the type of ear infection, some symptoms are more commonly associated with specific types of infection.

For example, a patient who experiences a discharge of liquid or solid waste from their ear is more likely to have otitis externa (an ear canal infection). Someone experiencing dizziness or vertigo is more likely to have an infection in the middle part of the ear. However, only a professional should diagnose the cause of the symptom. In addition, hearing loss can come with just about any type of ear infection. It can be a result of complications caused by the infection or a side effect of a drug used to treat the infection.

Common Ear Infection Treatments

Because ear infections can have serious complications and even cause hearing loss, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Treatment is generally more effective the earlier it is begun. Moreover, treatment for ear infection naturally varies depending on the type of infection, its severity, and the individual's immune system. What’s appropriate for one patient may not be the best treatment for another. But here are just two remedies that work to fight ear infections.

1. Rest

Rest is an important part of treating an ear infection. Physical rest can help prevent further damage to the ear that might result in temporary or even permanent hearing loss. Also, one should rest the ear in terms of limiting exposure to loud noises, which can further damage the ear and lead to hearing loss.

2. Drugs

Doctors can help individuals deal with ear infections by prescribing antibiotics or other medications. There are several types of antibiotics which have been specifically recommended for the treatment of bacterial ear infections, including a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolone antibiotics. The symptoms of ear infections also need to be treated not only to reduce discomfort for the patient, but also to reduce the probability of recurring symptoms.

Pain caused by ear infections can be treated with either over-the-counter or prescribed medications. Inflammation and swelling can be treated with oral or injectable steroids. Moreover, pseudoephedrine, taken orally, can help reduce pressure in the ear as well. However, before taking any drugs or pills, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor.