Ear Infection Treatment in Bristol, VA
The ear is comprised of three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear. All three parts work together to facilitate hearing and maintain balance. Any one of these parts can become infected, leading to ear pain, disturbances in balance and a list of other problematic symptoms. An ear infection most commonly occurs in young children and is one of the main health concerns that leads a parent to bring a child in to see a healthcare professional. And those concerns are often warranted; five out of six children will experience an ear infection by the time they are 3 years old. Although, the possibility of suffering from an ear infection does not end in childhood; adults can experience ear infections too.
Regardless of age, if you experience an ear infection it is important to seek medical treatment. Untreated ear infections could lead to more serious complications such as mastoiditis (an infection of the mastoid bone located behind the ear), hearing loss and even Meniere's disease (an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo).
To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Bristol that specializes in ear infection treatment, call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
Types of Ear Infections
Often, there is much confusion about the different types of ear infections. Although they may share some similar symptoms, the driving causes behind each of these infections can be different and treatment must consider the type of ear infection in order to effectively heal from it.
Outer Ear Infection
Also referred to as otitis externa or swimmer's ear, an external ear infection occurs when the skin of the ear canal becomes infected and swollen. Often considered the most painful of all ear infections, the skin can become so swollen that the ear canal closes, causing temporary hearing loss and even deafness. It most commonly occurs in people who suffer from skin problems like psoriasis and eczema, but can also occur in people who frequently swim or have narrow ear canals. However, any activity which creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow can increase the likelihood of developing an outer ear infection.
Middle Ear Infection
Also referred to as otitis media, middle ear infections are the most frequently reported ear infections. Caused by swelling or blocked Eustachian tubes, the blockage or inflammation can occur due to allergies, colds, sinus infections or swollen adenoids. A middle ear infection impacts the area behind the eardrum, often causing pus or fluid to accumulate due to the blocked Eustachian tubes. The eardrum then begins to bulge due to the fluid buildup. If the fluid continues to build rather than drain, the eardrum may rupture.
Inner Ear Infection
Also referred to as labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection is usually painless. Caused by a virus such as the cold or flu, the labyrinth—a delicate structure which contains the cochlea and vestibular system—becomes inflamed and begins to affect your hearing and balance. In rarer cases, labyrinthitis is caused by a bacterial infection. These cases tend to afflict young children and can be serious.
Ear Infection Symptoms
Depending on the type of ear infection you suffer from, you may experience different ear infection symptoms.
Outer Ear Infection Symptoms
- Pain or discomfort (often more severe than other types of ear infections)
- Discharge of pus
- Drainage of fluid
- Temporary hearing loss or muffled hearing
Middle Ear Infection Symptoms
- Tugging at the ear (common in small children and infants)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Balance issues
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
Inner Ear Infection Symptoms
- Vertigo (spinning sensation when you are still)
- Balance issues
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Changes in vision (blurriness or double vision)
- Mild hearing loss on the affected side
- Flu or cold symptoms
Treat Ear Infection
Just as there are different causes and symptoms of ear infections, your treatment will be dependent on which part of the ear is afflicted with an infection. For outer ear bacterial infections, your healthcare provider is likely to recommend antibiotic steroid ear drops to kill bacteria and quell inflammation. For infections impacting the middle ear, ear drops are likely unable to reach the affected area. Your healthcare provider will likely recommend oral antibiotics in these instances. In chronic middle ear infection cases, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to place tubes in the ears to help drain fluid.
Inner ear infections cannot be remedied with antibiotics as they are typically driven by a viral infection. Generally, the viral infection must run its course; however, your healthcare provider can recommend other ear infection medication and at-home therapies to alleviate your discomfort and help with any vertigo or balance issues you may be experiencing. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) may be recommended to address chronic labyrinthitis which uses exercises to retrain your brain and nervous system to compensate for a malfunctioning vestibular system.
Restore Your Ear's Function
Regardless of the type of ear infection you have, treatment is available to reduce pain, hearing complications and difficulties with balance. If you experience any of the signs or symptoms of an ear infection, seek medical treatment from an experienced healthcare provider in Bristol that specializes in ear infection treatment. Call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center
Address1604 Lamons Lane
Johnson City, TN 37604
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm