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Ear Infection

 

The ear is a complex organ responsible for hearing and balance.  It is made up of three parts: the outer ear, inner ear and middle ear. The outer ear is the part that is visible, the middle ear sits between the ear drum and inner ear and also connects to the back of the nose, and the inner ear is where sound is translated and sent to the brain. Infection can occur in any part of the ear.

 

The most common ear infection is inflammation in the middle ear (known as otitis media) and most commonly occurs in children. If the tube that connects the middle ear to the throat (the Eustachian tube) malfunctions, a build up of fluid can occur in the middle ear. This can trap bacteria or a virus which then leads to infection. If the build up of pressure in the middle ear is great enough, it can cause the ear drum to rupture.  

 

Another common ear infection occurs in the ear canal, commonly referred to as ‘Swimmer’s Ear’ (otitis externa). It often occurs in children who spend a lot of time in water. Too much water can break down the skin in the ear canal and make it more vulnerable to bacteria and fungi.  

 

Symptoms  

Symptoms of an ear infection may vary depending on the area of the ear infected. The most common symptoms include:  

  • mild deafness (also known as ‘glue ear’),  
  • an ear ache,  
  • discharge,  
  • itchiness,  
  • and headache.  

 

Treatment  

Middle ear infections usually resolve themselves within a number of days, however if pain persists, see a doctor for advice on treating the infection.  

 

Disclaimer  

The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.      

 

Sources  

Better Health http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Ear_infections

Kids Health http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/ear/otitis_media.html#