Ear Infections in Tuscaloosa
Although an ear infection is the most common cause of ear pain in infants and children, it can also affect adults. Children are more at risk due to the small size of their Eustachian tube. Ear infections often start with a viral infection that causes nasal congestion and the production of mucus. If an ear infection has lasted over one week, it’s time to visit Tuscaloosa ENT for an examination.
About Middle Ear Infection
“Otitis Media” is a term that means infection or inflammation of the middle ear space. Most often, it is associated with fluid or pus collected behind the eardrum. This usually follows a cold or upper respiratory infection and can cause ear pain or pressure, fever, and decreased hearing.
Generally, the cause of accumulated fluid is blockage of the Eustachian (auditory) tube. This narrow tube connects the middle ear space to the throat at a level above the palate. The tube normally opens during swallowing and allows air and equal air pressure to be maintained behind the eardrum.
In children, the tube is much smaller in diameter than in adults and is more prone to blockage. When it becomes blocked, the air in the middle ear is gradually absorbed by the lining of the middle ear. This creates negative pressure and a vacuum effect. This negative pressure may cause discomfort or pain.
You may be experiencing a middle ear infection if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Pain in the ear
- A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
Middle Ear Infection Treatment
Depending on the cause of middle ear infection, treatment options will vary. Eardrops, decongestants, antibiotics, or the surgical insertion of pressure equalization (PE) tubes into the eardrum are common options. Ear tubes are commonly used in children with reoccurring ear infections.
During the insertion of PE tubes, fluid behind the eardrum can be removed by making a tiny hole in the eardrum and suctioning out the fluid. This hole provides an alternate way for air to reach the airspace behind the eardrum, by-passing the Eustachian tube. Usually, a small plastic tube is inserted to allow continued ventilation of the middle ear space. The tube stays in the hole from several months up to 18 months and gradually comes out on its own as the eardrum heals under it.
To schedule an appointment with one of our ENT physicians, contact Tuscaloosa ENT at 205-758-9041.