Middle Ear Infections
The middle ear is a small cavity behind the eardrum that, under normal conditions, should be filled with air. Fluid in the middle ear space means you have an ear infection. Middle ear infections are most common in children, but can be very painful for anyone due to inflammation and fluid buildup in the middle ear. Symptoms may include ear pain, difficulty hearing, fever, or yellowish fluid draining from the ear.
To help diagnose an ear infection, the doctor will use an otoscope to inspect the ear canal and eardrum and look for the presence of fluid in the middle ear.
A specialized treatment plan based on the severity of the ear infection will be developed. This can include pain management, antibiotics, or in some cases, ear tubes.
Ear tubes are an option if the infection does not clear up on its own, resolve with the addition of antibiotics or if the ear infections are recurrent. During the procedure, called myringotomy, a surgeon will place tiny tubes in the eardrum to allow for fluid drainage and pressure equalization for the middle ear. Though recovery times vary, most patients may resume regular activities the next day.
Like any health condition, children and adults with ear infection problems need to be monitored. Regular ear exams and testing will likely be advised.
Outer Ear Infections - “swimmer’s ear”
Infections of the external ear canal occur in people of all ages and are not always linked to swimming. The most common symptoms are pain and swelling of the ear canal. Treatments can include oral antibiotics, antibiotic ear drops, an ear wick (a medicated fabric plug placed in the ear canal), and pain management. This condition may also require serial appointments to suction fluid and debris from the ear canal.