Top 3 Causes of Ear Infections

Dr. Lichtenthal examines a patient's eardrum.

Some pains are worse than others. When it comes to ear infections, the pain can be downright intolerable. Acute infections may hurt, but they’re over in a short time. Chronic infections continue to create painful symptoms and could cause permanent damage in the future. An ear infection happens when the Eustachian tubes become blocked or swollen. As fluid builds up in your ear, that’s when the real pain begins.

3 Common Causes for Ear Infections

  1. Allergies and Colds – Allergies and colds cause a buildup of mucus in your nose, lungs and ears. If it’s a serious allergy or a cold, the inner ear tubes will become blocked with fluid, causing pain from your ear down to your throat. Not only will you have difficulty hearing but also swallowing due to a sharp pain in your throat on the swollen side.
  2. Swollen Adenoids – Sometimes the adenoids become swollen due to bacterial or viral infections. These glands sit in the roof of your mouth and help to fight against illnesses. The infection can spread to your inner ear and cause even more problems and pain if it’s not caught in time.
  3. Changes in Altitude – If you fly on a plane or drive up a mountain, it’s common to feel pressure in your ears. The air pressure changes at high altitudes, making your ears feel blocked. If they remain blocked for an extended time, it can cause fluid buildup in your Eustachian tubes and possibly lead to an infection.

How to Treat an Ear Infection

An acute earache will often go away on its own within a day or two. Some people try homemade remedies to speed up the process and to fight the infection, such as taking garlic pills or using a hydrogen peroxide and water mixture. A serious ear infection requires more professional assistance as it can spread and lead to inner ear damage. If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If it’s a viral infection, you will often have to wait it out. However, over-the-counter medications and heating pads can ease the pain.

Prevent Ear Damage With Regular Tests

Want to see if you’re prone to hearing loss due to inner ear complications? Contact us directly to learn about our hearing tests and treatment options. You shouldn’t take ear infections lightly, especially if they’re a recurring problem. Not all ear infections cause long-term problems, but it’s important to have your hearing tested as an infection can lead to impaired hearing and other minor and serious complications.