Infection of the ear commonly occurs in the middle ear. It is a small space behind the eardrum that is ventilated by the air, that passes through a small tube called the Eustachian tube. Constant ventilation helps to keep the middle ear clean and dry. When this tube gets blocked, the area becomes damp, stagnant and warm which makes them a perfect breeding ground for germs. This eventually would result in ear infections.
In children, the eustachian tube is often too soft and immature and does not always stay open. Because of this reason, they are more vulnerable to ear infections. Allergies, postnasal drainage, sinus infections, common cold viruses and the adenoid problem can all interfere with the normal ventilation leading to ear infections.
Bacteria or viruses are the most common pathogens for middle ear infections. Streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenza are the two most common bacteria reported to cause ear infections.
When the doctor looks at the eardrum, he or she will see that it is often red and building and thus will be able to make the diagnosis of an ear infection. Those individuals with an ear infection will experience ear pain, ear blockage, muffled hearing and also ear discharge in severe cases.
An ear infection can be prevented by removing as many environmental pollutants from the home such as dust, cleaning fluid and solvents, tobacco smoke, etc. Reducing contact with people who have a cold, and flu can also prevent some ear infections. Controlling the allergies will also contribute to reduced ear infections.
Generally, the body’s immune system can fight ear infections on its own and hence mild infections do not require medications as such. However, if the infection lasts longer than 2-3 days, then it is advisable to consult the doctor and get your antibiotics prescribed. Drinking a good amount of fluids and taking rest will also boost your immune system to fight against the infection.