Dr. Wade Han and his team at Florida Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery in Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida provide comprehensive care that alleviates ear pain and prevents chronic infections.
The basics of ear infections
While anyone can develop an ear infection, kids are especially prone. In fact, five out of six children will have one or more infections by age three, making ear infections the top reason for children’s doctor visits. They happen when the tubes that supply fresh air to the eardrum become blocked due to factors, such as a cold. Children are more likely to develop them partly because the tubes in their ears can more easily collapse, compared with adults, making way for these blockages. And pain and irritability are the primary symptoms.
There are three types of ear infections, including:
- Acute otitis media, when parts of the middle ear become infected and swollen, trapping fluid behind the eardrum
- Otitis media with effusion, when fluid stays trapped behind the eardrum after an initial infection has run its course
- Chronic otitis media with effusion, when fluid stays in the middle ear for a long time or keeps returning
Ear infection complications
If you or a loved one has an ear infection and seek care promptly, treatment may include pain medications followed by a wait-and-see approach. Many acute symptoms alleviate as healing unfolds within two weeks. In some cases, antibiotics are necessary to fight the infection. Letting an ear infection go on and on without proper care could lead to these complications:
- Eardrum perforation, or tiny holes in the eardrum that could get larger with subsequent infections
- Middle ear hearing loss, owing to the buildup of scar tissue that interferes with auditory nerve function
- Temporary hearing loss, until the infection clears
- Conductive hearing loss, in which motion of the middle ear bones gets restricted and may require surgery
- Cholesteatoma, or a mass of skin cells that can damage structures in the ear
- Mastoiditis, or an infection of a bone that helps drain fluid from the ear and may require surgery
- Chronic mastoiditis, which can lead to spreading of the infection, brain abscesses, or meningitis
To avoid these complications, don’t treat ear infections lightly, especially if they keep returning or seem severe. To learn more or get proper diagnosis and treatment, call Florida Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery or book an appointment through our website.