How to Cope with Recurring Ear Infections
Getting the occasional ear infection is nothing unusual, especially for children. However, if the infections continue to return, they could become a serious health risk. Ear infections occur when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. This can lead to a range of symptoms including temporary hearing loss, fever, pain, and pressure. Figuring out the root cause of ear infections that keep coming back is the first step towards dealing with the problem. Some common reasons might include a blocked Eustachian tube, chronic sinus issues, or allergies.
What is a Chronic Ear infection?
A chronic ear infection is an infection in the ear that does not heal. It often occurs when the eustachian tube, the tube that drains fluid out of the middle ear, becomes blocked, leading to an infection. The fluid build-up presses on the eardrum, which causes pain. If an infection progresses quickly or you do not get treatment for it, eardrum rupture may occur. This is often more common in children since in kids, the eustachian tube is smaller and more horizontal, allowing it to become blocked more easily.
Chronic Ear Infection Symptoms
Often, a recurring ear infection will lead to milder symptoms compared to acute infections of the ear. You may notice symptoms in either one or both of the ears, and they may be constant, or come and go over time. Some of the most common symptoms to look out for include trouble sleeping, fluid draining from the ears, mild ear pain, feeling of pressure in the ear, hearing loss, and a low fever.
When to See a Doctor
If you or your child has symptoms of an acute ear infection including trouble hearing, fever, and ear pain, then you should see your doctor. Fast treatment for an acute ear infection can help to prevent it from becoming chronic. You should also see your doctor if an acute ear infection that you have been diagnosed with is not responding to any treatment you have been given, if you or your child is showing signs of a recurring ear infection, or if you experience any new symptoms or symptom worsening after being diagnosed with an acute ear infection. Mr Wale Olarinde is an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) surgeon based in Sheffield. Dr Olarinde specialises in the treatment of middle and outer ear infections, perforated ear drums, hearing loss, and more.
Medical treatment is usually required to deal with a chronic ear infection. You can also use several home treatments to relieve symptoms including numbing ear drops, over-the-counter painkillers, or holding a cool or warm washcloth on the painful area. Antibiotics will usually be prescribed for a chronic ear infection. If you have a hole in the eardrum, ear drops may also be prescribed. When chronic ear infections are not responding to treatment or are leading to hearing problems, your doctor may suggest surgery to help the fluid in the middle ear drain. This is done via a procedure known as a bilateral tympanostomy.
Chronic ear infections occur when you have an infection in your ear that does not go away. While not always as painful as an acute ear infection, they can be uncomfortable and lead to a range of worrying symptoms if left untreated.