Medicine and Treatment for Ear Infection in Murfreesboro, TN
I’m Dr. Helton.
I started practicing medicine in the year 2000, and over the past 19 years have treated and served over 15,000 patients. I’m the current president of the Middle Tennessee chapter of Family Physicians, an Executive board member of the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians and Chairman of St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital Family Medicine Department.
An ear infection (acute otitis media) is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections.
Ear infections frequently are painful because of inflammation and buildup of fluids in the middle ear.
Often times ear infection heal on their own, treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring the problem. Ear infection in infants and severe cases in general often require antibiotic medications. Long-term problems related to ear infections — persistent fluids in the middle ear, persistent infections or frequent infections — can cause hearing problems and other serious complications.
An ear infection occurs when one of your eustachian tubes becomes swollen or blocked, causing fluid to build up in your middle ear. Eustachian tubes are small tubes that run from each ear directly to the back of the throat.
Causes of eustachian tube blockage include:
- sinus infections
- excess mucus
- infected or swollen adenoids (tissue near your tonsils that traps harmful bacteria and viruses)
- changes in air pressure
The onset of signs and symptoms of ear infection is usually rapid.
Signs and symptoms common in children include:
- Ear pain, especially when lying down
- Tugging or pulling at an ear
- Difficulty sleeping due to pain
- Crying more than usual
- Acting more irritable than usual
- Lack of response to sounds
- Loss of balance
- Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
- Drainage of fluid from the ear
- Loss of appetite
Common signs and symptoms in adults include:
- Ear pain
- Drainage of fluid from the ear
- Diminished hearing
These symptoms might persist or come and go. Symptoms may occur in one or both ears. Pain is usually more severe with double ear infection (infection in both ears).
Chronic ear infection symptoms may be less noticeable than those of acute ear infections.
Children younger than 6 months who have a fever or ear infection symptoms should see a doctor. Always seek medical attention if your child has a fever higher than 102°F (39°C) or severe ear pain.
Most mild ear infections clear up without medical treatment however acute and chronic infections needs specialist attention. Some of the following methods are effective in relieving the symptoms of a mild ear infection:
Apply a warm cloth to the affected ear.
Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Find ibuprofen or acetaminophen online.
Use OTC or prescription ear drops to relieve pain. Shop for ear drops.
Take OTC decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
If your symptoms get worse or don’t improve, you should schedule an appointment with us and and one of our specialist can help you get checked and treated. Antibiotics may be prescribed if your ear infection is chronic or doesn’t appear to be improving.
It’s important to finish your entire course of antibiotics if they’re prescribed.
Surgery may be an option if your ear infection isn’t eliminated with the usual medical treatments or if you have many ear infections over a short period of time. Most often, tubes are placed in the ears to allow fluid to drain out.
In cases that involve enlarged adenoids, surgical removal of the adenoids may be necessary.