Ear infections are the result of one of the tubes in the ear becoming swollen or blocked. This causes a fluid build-up in the middle ear. The causes of tube blockage include:
A few of the common symptoms of ear infections include:
These symptoms might persist or come and go. Symptoms may occur in one or both ears.
Your healthcare provider examines your ears with an instrument called an otoscope. The light and magnifying lens on the end of the otoscope helps to reveal:
If your infection is advanced, your doctor may take a sample of the fluid inside your ear and test it to determine whether certain types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present. If ear infections are chronic, a hearing test may be necessary.
Children who are younger than six months old with symptoms of an ear infection or a fever should see a doctor right away. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the ear infection is chronic or is not improving. If a child under two has ear infection symptoms, a doctor will likely give him or her antibiotics as well. It is important to have your child complete the entire course of antibiotics even if symptoms improve. As a last resort, surgery may be an option if traditional methods do not improve your symptoms, or if you have many ear infections over a short period of time. This can involve tube placed in the ears to allow fluid to drain out.
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