An ear infection is a common childhood condition but affects adults, too. When you or your child has frequent ear infections, the team at Massachusetts Ear, Nose and Throat Associates can help. The ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists can determine the cause of the frequent infections and the best treatment. For help with an ear infection, call the office in Chelmsford, Woburn, or Concord, Massachusetts, or the office in Nashua or Derry, New Hampshire. You can also request an appointment at any of these locations online.
An ear infection occurs when germs (a bacteria or virus) get trapped in the middle ear and grow, causing pain and inflammation.
The middle ear is the air-filled space behind the eardrum. Eustachian tubes run from the middle ear to the throat, helping to drain the fluid that collects in the middle ear and maintain ear pressure.
When you have a cold or flu, you may have inflammation and swelling of the eustachian tubes, which affects fluid drainage. In children, the eustachian tubes are more horizontal than in adults, which is why ear infections are more common in kids.
An earache is usually the first symptom of an ear infection. Other symptoms include:
These symptoms indicate an acute ear infection (acute otitis media). After an acute infection, you can develop otitis media effusion — when fluid remains in the middle ear. The trapped fluid affects hearing and may lead to another ear infection.
If you or your child has an ear infection that fails to improve with treatment, you have chronic suppurative otitis media.
If you or your child has ear pain that fails to improve within a few days, you should seek professional help. The team at Massachusetts Ear, Nose and Throat Associates includes experts in diagnosing and treating ear infections in children and adults.
When you come in for help, the ENT specialists conduct a thorough evaluation to fully understand the cause of the infection to get you the most effective treatment. That might include testing for ear pressure and a hearing test.
Treatment for an ear infection depends on the severity of the symptoms and the frequency of infections. For an acute ear infection, the team may recommend rest and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication.
If an ear infection fails to improve with at-home care or the infection is severe, they may prescribe antibiotics. For patients with chronic suppurative otitis media or frequent ear infections, the team may recommend ear tube placement surgery.
Ear tubes improve the movement of air into the middle ear and the removal of fluid. These tubes fall out on their own with time.
Though not always a serious medical issue, an untreated ear infection can cause permanent damage to the ear. For expert care, call Massachusetts Ear, Nose and Throat Associates or schedule an appointment online today.