Ear Pain and Infections

Otitis media, the most frequent diagnosis for children who visit physicians, is inflammation of the middle ear that occurs as a result of an infection. The most common cause of hearing loss in children, otitis media is most common in young children and occurs most commonly in winter and early spring. Antibiotics fight the infection and make the earache go away rapidly. Many ear infections are caused by a viral infection and in this case, antibiotics are of no benefit. This is best decided after an ear examination and discussion with your healthcare provider.

Swimmers ear is an infection of the outer ear canal. Since a cause of the infection is moisture trapped in the ear canal, bathing or showering may also cause this common infection. When water is trapped in the ear canal, bacteria that normally inhabit the skin and ear canal multiply, causing infection. The most common symptoms are pain that is aggravated by tugging on the auricle, an itchy ear, a sensation that the ear is blocked/full or drainage. Treatment includes careful cleaning of the ear canal by an ear, nose and throat provider and eardrops that inhibit bacterial growth. If the ear canal is too swollen for ear drops to penetrate, an ear wick may be placed for 2-3 days.

Otomycosis is a fungal infection of the ear canal. Patients with suppressed immune system and diabetes are at particular risk. The symptoms include a blocked ear, itching and sometimes pain. Treatment includes topical drops or cream, careful cleaning of the canal and keeping the ear dry.