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Middle Ear Infections - Did You Know These Things?

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, DLO, MS - ENT
ENT Specialist, Delhi  •  41 years experience
Middle Ear Infections - Did You Know These Things?

The human ear is divided into three parts, namely the outer, middle and inner ear. All these parts function in coherence with each other and help us in converting vibrations into sound and information. The middle ear consists of the air space between the inner ear and the outer ear and contains the bones that transmit the vibrations of the outer ear and translate them into information.

This area is prone to infections, especially among children and thus, may cause discomfort or pain

Symptoms of middle ear infections: Middle ear infections primarily tend to manifest themselves as inflammation of the tissues and buildup of fluids. Some of the symptoms are mentioned below.

Infections in children: Middle ear infections primarily occur in children although it can occur in adults as well. Some of the common symptoms could be:

  • Ear pain either sitting or standing up and especially while lying down
  • Irritability and crying, which in infants could translate to more than usual crying 
  • Problems with sound and difficulties in hearing
  • Fluid buildup causing balance related problems
  • Discharge of fluid in certain cases
  • Unable to sleep and also loss of appetite
  • In some cases, children may have high fever

Causes of middle ear infections: The primary cause of middle ear infection is due to the presence of bacteria or virus in the area. The Eustachian tube, which runs from the middle ear to the back of the throat, is connected to nasal passages as well. Any infection that affects the throat or the nose may also affect the middle ear through this tube. Primary causes for the infections could be:

  • Cold or flu-like symptoms, which then infect the middle ear as well
  • Otitis media, which is the buildup of fluid and inflammation either due to the presence of bacteria and viruses or even without it
  • Seasonal infections, which are common during late autumn or winters
  • Air pollution is also known to be a factor
  • Infection from others, especially in the case of children when they are part of a group care
  • Children from 6 months to 2 years are also susceptible to middle ear infections as their immune systems are much less developed

Treatment of middle ear infections: Usually, middle ear infections resolve on their own within a day or so. You can try warm compress with a soft piece of cloth to ease the pain. However, if pain persists for too long then antibiotic medications may be required to fight the infection with pain relief medications to lessen the pain and discomfort.

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