What is an Ear Infection?

Medically known as acute otitis media, an ear infection is a condition where the space behind the eardrum is infected by microorganisms like bacteria or viruses. This kind of infection affects children more often than adults. However, adults may also develop this condition. 

When bacteria or viruses infect the middle ear, it may manifest via various symptoms like pain, itching, fever, loss of hearing or pus formation. Fortunately, this condition is not life threatening and can easily be treated by a medical professional. Check out this article for more information on the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ear infections. 

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Ear and jaw pains are often the most uncomfortable sensation for infants and ear infections are touted as a severely unpleasant occurrence, owing to the discomfort they cause. Ear infections can be extremely painful and cause impairment in daily life and activities. It is best to diagnose and ensure that the ear infection is treated at the earliest in order to prevent long-term health consequences.

Ear Infection

Ear Infection

Ear Infection Symptoms

Ear infections are generally considered to occur more commonly in children than in adults. While ear infection symptoms are quite easy to detect, however, the diagnosis must be made by a medical professional. Read on to learn about ear infection symptoms you must watch out for.

  1. Pain of either mild or high intensity within the ear
  2. You could experience a feeling of lingering pressure within the ear
  3. Young infants could demonstrate ear pain through fussy behaviour
  4. Leakage from the ear of a pus-like consistency
  5. Loss in hearing is a symptom of an ear infection that must not be ignored at any cost
  6. Some ear infections could also result in fever
  7. Ear pain in kids can also be detected if they are having difficulty in sleeping.

Causes of Ear Infections

There are several ways an ear infection can be contracted.

1. Related Illnesses:

A ear infection is likely to occur as a result of another connected illness, such as from the flu or having a cold or an allergy. If these illnesses cause congestion and swelling of the throat, eustachian tubes or even the nasal passages.

2. Blocked Eustachian Tubes:

The eustachian tubes, which run from the middle ear to the back of your throat are swollen, they can become blocked as a result. Consequently, fluids can build up in the middle ear, which could then become infected and result in an ear infection.

3. Swollen Adenoid Patch:

The adenoid patch of tissues near the eustachian tubes’ opening can swell, resulting in the middle ear becoming infected.

4. Lingering Swelling:

Even after an ear infection has improved, the middle ear could still experience fluid buildup or swelling.

Ear Infection in Adults

Ear infection in adults is relatively less common than in children. This is owing to several reasons including that the immune system of adults is significantly better than of children. However, common symptoms that adults may experience during an ear infection include:

  1. Pain in the ear
  2. Fluids draining from the ear
  3. Difficulty in hearing

Ear Infection in Kids and Babies

Ear infection in babies is quite common. Between the ages of 6 months to 2 years, children are especially susceptible to ear infections since their immune systems are still developing. Additionally, eustachian tubes in children are more horizontal and narrower, which makes it significantly more difficult for the ear fluid to drain out. The shape and size of the eustachian tubes also make them likelier to become clogged.

There are several other risk factors for ear infections in kids, which you can read about below.

  1. Children who are exposed to group settings such as in daycare centres are more likely to catch infections, and may more easily contract ear infections.
  2. Drinking from a bottle rather than being breastfed has a higher possibility of causing ear infection in kids.
  3. Children with cleft palates are also more susceptible to ear infections.

Ear Infection Diagnosis

For an ear infection, as for any other illness, it is essential to get an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional. For yourself or for your child, make sure to call a doctor for a diagnosis in case of the following situations:

  • Long-lasting Symptoms:

If the symptoms such as the ones listed above don’t go away in a day

  • Immediate Attention for Infants:

For children younger than 6 months of age, take them to a doctor immediately

  • Debilitating Pain:

If the ear pain is extremely severe and is proving debilitating to your regular functioning, you should visit a doctor immediately

  • Inability to Sleep for Infants:

If an infant is unable to sleep or is irritable after having contracted any upper respiratory infection or even a cold

  • Discharge from Ear:

In case of any discharge such as of fluid, both bloody and not, or pus.

Doctors usually use an otoscope to determine your ear infection. If the infection proves to be at an advanced stage, the doctor may even take a sample to determine the cause.

Ear Infection Treatment

Most ear infection treatment does not require any medical assistance. They are likely to get cleared up without the need for medical intervention. However, there are ways to relieve the ear pain, some of which have been listed below.

1. Warm Compress:

Applying a warm compress to your ear when it is paining can help in providing relief

2. OTC Drugs:

There are several OTC drugs available that help relieve ear infections. These include acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).

3. Prescribed Ear Drops:

Ask your doctor to recommend ear drops that can help with the ear pain.

4. OTC Decongestants:

OTC decongestants can also greatly help in relieving ear pain.

Home remedies For Ear Pain & Infection

Owing to how common ear infections are, many home remedies have evolved to treat them. Read on to learn how you can treat an ear infection at home or even administer it to a family member for relief.

1. Heat or Cold:

A compress, whether warm or cold, can be applied to the ear to relieve pressure and pain. You can even hold a hair dryer at a distance to achieve the desired level of warmth.


2. Onions/Garlics:

As part of home remedies and recommended treatments, garlic and onions have achieved acclaim. Eating a clove of garlic a day or applying the drained liquid from an onion to the ear may help get better.


3. Suck on Something:

Sucking as an activity is recommended for patients with ear pain or infection, since it helps relieve pressure on the Eustachian tubes. For nursing infants, the frequency of nursing can be increased while adults can suck on hard candy.


While home remedies may help with easing pain, they can never be used as a substitute to any antibiotic or other medical course of treatment recommended by a doctor.

Prevention of Ear Infection

While there is never one definite way to avoid ear infection, you can always take preventive measures to reduce the risk of contracting an ear infection.

1. Wash Hands:

Washing your hands prevents the spread of germs that you may have carried into the house from outside. Make sure to wash your hands frequently and each time you return home from outside.

2. Avoid Crowds:

Crowded places can increase the risk of contracting an ear infection, which is why avoiding places which are extremely crowded is a good idea.

3. Avoid Pacifiers for Children:

Pacifiers for children can often increase the risk of ear infection, which is why it is better to avoid them.

4. Don’t Bottle Feed Infants:

Breastfeeding infants instead of feeding them through the bottle is a good way to reduce the chances of contracting an ear infection.

5. Ensure Regular Vaccination:

Vaccinations and immunisation of children and adults are extremely important, and ensuring that you are up-to-date is a good way to prevent a range of illnesses, including ear infections.


Ear infections are often a very painful experience and it is ideal to prevent them from occurring. From the right precaution to a proper treatment on diagnosis, ear infection can be managed. However, even in case you do end up contracting an ear infection that gets severe, it always helps to have a health insurance policy that ensures you do not incur huge financial losses as well. 

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