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Middle Ear Infection


ear infection cartoon

Middle Ear Infection Cause

Middle ear infections are most often caused by viruses or bacteria.

Further into your ear than you can reach with your finger, is a smooth membrane like the skin of a drum. Behind this eardrum, your hearing bones - hammer, anvil, and stapes - are stored in a bony inner room called the middle ear. Infections of the middle ear occur in this middle room. The medical term for middle ear infection is otitis media.

Viral middle ear infections typically don't last longer than your typical flu - 7 to 10 days. They tend to make the ear scratchy, sore, and muffled and cause low grade fever, but are mostly harmless. If they reach further in to the semicircular canals and labarynth they'll also cause vertigo.

Bacterial middle ear infections on the other hand, have no time limit. Given lots of time, they can gobble and destroy delicate structures in the ear leading to deafness. They cause high fever and a lot of throbbing earache and upper jaw toothaches.

Fungal infections are the mildest of our three ear miscreants. They cause maddening itch. They typically aren't aggressive and usually only occur in immuno compromized victims.

Middle Ear Infection Symptoms

  • Pain in the middle ear
  • Popping sounds in the ear when you yawn
  • Ringing sounds
  • Fever
  • Tenderness over the bones around your ear
  • Dizziness
  • Ear drainage yellow or green fluid like a runny nose if the ear drum ruptures.
  • Itching in the ear
  • Upper jaw toothache

Middle Ear Infection Treatment

  • So for bacteria you'll always use an antibiotic.
  • For viruses, they affect the entire ear but go away on their own. So symptom relief like an antinauseant or something for fever like Tylenol are all that's needed.
  • In kids with recurrent middle ear infections, surgical placement of ear tubes in the drums reduces the frequency and duration of ear infections by allowing the ears to keep dry, starving bacteria of stagnant ear fluid.

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    Last Updated:
    April 22 2016
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