Otitis media is the medical term for infection of the mucous membrane of the middle ear, predominantly of the tympanic cavity. When all is well, the ear is filled with air, it connects to the nasopharynx (the back of your nose / top of your throat) through the Eustachian tube. An ear infection can ruin not only your day, but your night as well. If you suspect you have an ear infection but are not sure, then read the article to find out the symptoms and risk factors associated with otitis media.
Method 1 of 3: Identifying Early Symptoms
Step 1. Pay attention to any pain in the ear
Usually, this is a constant aching pain accompanied by throbbing. You feel like your heart is beating in your ear and you feel pain. Some people even feel really sharp, piercing pain that does not go away, but intensifies. Acute pain can be replaced by aching.
This pain can spread to the head, causing you a headache, which can also be both aching and sharp, throbbing
Step 2. Pay attention if your ear seems to be filled with water
When an ear infection develops, you may feel like you are feeling pressure in your ear. Some people describe it as feeling like a water-filled ear or as if there is something in the ear.
Step 3. Also pay attention if you think that your hearing has become worse
Just like the pressure in your ear, which feels like water in your ear, you may feel like you are hearing sounds as if underwater. When your ear is infected, you can lose some of your hearing, and sounds become muffled and distant to you.
Some people hear a ringing or buzzing in their ears that starts and ends
Step 4. If you have chills or fever, take your temperature
Many infections are accompanied by a high fever, just as your body fights infection with a high fever. This is usually around 38 degrees Celsius. The best way to tell if you have a fever due to an ear infection is to take your temperature in your mouth.
If you have many of the above symptoms, but no fever, then you may have fluid in your ear (called tympanic exudate). It is a virus syndrome that begins with an upper respiratory infection, i.e. the common cold
Step 5. Pay attention to balance problems
The inner ear controls balance. If you have an ear infection, you may notice that your balance is slightly disturbed, you may feel dizzy or feel uncommonly awkward.
Step 6. Pay attention to the itching
When there is an infection in the ear, you may feel itchy. Itching usually occurs in the outer ear because the skin is peeling and flaking due to an infection. Try not to scratch, rub, or twitch your ear, even if you really feel like it, as you hurt yourself even more in this way.
Step 7. Pay attention to any fluid leaking from the ear
If you touch your ear and feel like you are not hearing the touch, your ear may be filled with fluid due to an infection. This liquid is colorless and odorless. You will feel wet and greasy.
Step 8. Check for an ear infection in your child
Children usually have the same symptoms as adults. However, their appetite loss also increases. This is because when they swallow, they put pressure on the middle ear, which causes them severe pain. Here are some more childhood symptoms:
- Children rub and pull their ears. An adult knows not to rub the ear when there is an infection in it, but the child will rub the ear constantly, trying to relieve the itching and soreness that comes with an infection in the ear.
- Your child can become very irritable. This is due to the fact that when infected, sleep is not so deep and in the morning the child may wake up awake. Your child may refuse to lie down and cry because the pain increases when lying down.
Method 2 of 3: Identifying Late Symptoms
Step 1. See your doctor if you have temporary or permanent hearing loss
If you have persistent ear infections or do not treat the infection for a long time, this can lead to dire consequences. The infection can affect the structure of the ear, such as the eardrum, which can lead to deafness.
Go to your doctor right away as soon as you have symptoms
Step 2. Understand that an ear infection can rupture your eardrum
When a lot of fluid collects in the ear, it puts a lot of pressure on the eardrum. This pressure can cause the membrane to burst and you feel a crackling sound. When the membrane bursts, you will feel relieved as the pressure subsides and you will no longer feel pain. You will also notice some liquid flowing out. Such a liquid is usually yellow or green in color with blood impurities in it.
Fortunately, bursting eardrums will heal on their own, but you should still see a doctor if you suspect that your eardrum has burst
Step 3. Be aware that pain behind the ear can signal that an infection is spreading
When the infection is left untreated, it spreads to other parts of the body. As a result, there is an inflammation of the mastoid process. This is the bone behind the ear. When the infection occurs, you will feel severe pain behind the ear and see that the part behind the ear becomes red and swollen.
Step 4. You should also be aware that an untreated infection can lead to meningitis
Another possible condition due to an untreated ear infection. Meningitis is an infection of the protective tissue between the brain and spinal cord. This is one of the rare occurrences if the infection spreads. The most common symptoms of meningitis are:
Fever, headache, and stiff neck. There may be other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and increased sensitivity to light or loud sounds
Step 5. If you have facial nerve palsy, go to your doctor immediately
This is one of the rare symptoms of an ear infection, but it occurs in some people as a result of an untreated infection. The pressure and fluid can squeeze your facial nerve, preventing you from expressing your emotions, eating, drinking, or holding back saliva.
Method 3 of 3: Know the Risk Factors
Step 1. You should know that young children often have ear infections
Since babies are not yet grown up, their ear tubes are smaller and more horizontally inclined than adults. This shape and structure of the ears makes it easier for infections to enter the ear and develop inflammations of various kinds.
- Kindergartens are a great environment for ear infections to develop. When your children are in the company of children with colds, they have every chance of catching a cold. And a cold leads to an infection in the ears.
- Children with cleft palates are more likely to suffer from ear infections. The cleft palate is an open mouth in children, which predisposes fluid to build up in the middle ear, leading to ear infections.
Step 2. Keep in mind that babies who drank breast milk are less prone to this kind of infection
Research has shown that babies who are breastfed have fewer ear infections than babies who are bottle fed. All this happens because breast milk contains special substances that can fight infection. If you have a small baby, breastfeed, not bottle.
Step 3. Swim gently
If you swim in dirty or polluted water, there is a risk of dirt getting into your ear and infecting it. You should also be very careful about getting water in your ears, as water in your ear can lead to bacterial infections.
Step 4. You should also be aware that cold can cause ear infections
The virus that causes colds can enter the Eustachian tube, which connects to your ears at the end of your nose. If you have a cold, you can very easily get an infectious disease and ears, which, of course, is doubly annoying.
Step 5. Try not to smoke cigarettes
There are many health reasons you need to quit smoking. One of the reasons is a weakening of your immunity, which makes you more susceptible to colds, and this is a direct road to ear infections.
It's also important to remember that studies have shown that children who inhale cigarette smoke are 85% more likely to develop ear infections
Step 6. Allergic factor
Some allergies to odors, to different types of air pollution, increase the risk of otitis media, as they irritate the respiratory passages. Contaminated air or anything else can irritate the airways and lead to otitis media.
Step 7. Get the recommended vaccinations
People who are not vaccinated against respiratory diseases are at risk of developing otitis media.