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Ear Infections

Southern ENT & Sinus Center

Otolaryngologists located in Birmingham, AL

The pain and discomfort of an ear infection usually develop unexpectedly and quickly. Though ear infections don’t always lead to serious health complications, recurring infections may cause hearing loss. At Southern ENT & Sinus Center in Birmingham, Alabama, D. Trent Lowery, MD, David Walters, MD, Matthew Fort, MD, and the team specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ear infections. To schedule a consultation to discuss your treatment options, call the office or book online today.

Ear Infections Q & A

What are ear infections?

Ear infections, or acute otitis media, are infections that affect your middle ear, which is the open space located behind your eardrum that contains the tiny bones that create vibrations in the ear. 

It develops when a bacteria or virus gets trapped in the middle ear due to inflammation or congestion from a cold, the flu, or allergies. 

The congestion or inflammation may cause narrowing or blockage of your eustachian tubes, which are the narrow tubes that assist with draining fluid from the ear.

Ear infections are more common in children because their eustachian tubes are smaller and more horizontal, making them more prone to the blockage that leads to an ear infection. However, adults also get ear infections. 

What are ear infection symptoms?

Ear infection symptoms typically develop quickly and may differ between adults and children.

Ear infection symptoms in children may include:

  • Complaints of ear pain
  • Tugging on the ear
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fussiness
  • Fever
  • Poor balance
  • Fluid drainage from the ear
  • Headache

In adults, ear infections may cause ear pain, hearing loss, and fluid drainage.

When should I seek medical help for ear infections?

You should seek medical attention anytime you or your child experiences ear infection symptoms. The signs and symptoms of an ear infection may develop from a range of causes, and getting a proper diagnosis may prevent more serious complications.

The team at Southern ENT & Sinus Center specializes in conditions that affect the head, neck, and throat, and recommend you schedule a consultation for you or your child if the ear infections are recurrent.

How are ear infections treated?

Treatment for ear infections depends on the age of the patient, underlying cause, severity of symptoms, and frequency of infections.

For an acute ear infection, you may only need over-the-counter pain medication to manage symptoms. However, if you have a bacterial ear infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.

For patients with chronic or recurrent ear infections, the team at Southern ENT & Sinus Center places ear tubes. 

During the outpatient procedure, your specialist at Southern ENT & Sinus Center creates a tiny hole in the eardrum and drains the fluid. Then, they place a tiny tube in the middle ear to facilitate drainage. 

The team primarily uses ear tubes for the treatment of recurrent ear infections in children. The tubes remain in the ear for 6-12 months and then fall out on their own, or your specialist removes them. 

To discuss treatment options for you or your child’s ear infections, contact Southern ENT & Sinus Center by phone or book an appointment online today.