Ear Infection – Symptoms & Treatment Options

Understanding your Ear and Ear Pain / Infection

Anatomy of the Ear Eardrum Cochlea

Anatomy of the Ear - Eardrum :: Middle Ear :: Cochlea

The ear consists of three parts:

  • the outer ear
  • the middle ear
  • the inner ear

The outer ear is made up of the visible part of the ear (pinna) on the side of your head, the ear canal that goes into your head, and the eardrum (Tympanic Membrane).

The middle ear is a small, air-filled cavity, connected to the nose and throat by the eustachian tube. Inside the middle ear there are three small bones, known as the ossicles.

The inner ear is made up of:

  • a coiled, spiral tube (the cochlea) that contains two fluid-filled chambers
  • a nerve that transmits sounds to the brain (auditory nerve)


Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. It is common in younger children. Most ear infections occur in infants aged 6-18 months, though anyone can get an ear infection. For reasons that are unclear they are more common in boys than girls.


Symptoms of an Ear Infection

Signs that your child might have an ear infection include:

  • pulling, tugging, or rubbing their ear
  • a high temperature (38°C or above)
  • irritability
  • poor feeding
  • restlessness at night
  • coughing
  • runny nose
  • unresponsiveness to quiet sounds
  • loss of balance

Sometimes, in cases of middle ear infection, the eardrum will become perforated (a hole will form in it) and pus may run out of the ear. This can help to relieve the pain by releasing the pressure on the eardrum, but it may also lead to re-infection.


When to see an ENT Specialist

Most ear infections clear up quickly so it is not always necessary to see your Doctor. However, it is recommended that you contact your ENT Doctor for advice if:

  • symptoms show no sign of improvement after 24 hours
  • your child seems to be in a lot of pain
  • you notice fluid coming from the ear

You should also contact your doctor if your child is more vulnerable to the effects of infection, for example due to certain medical conditions.


Treating an ear infection

Most ear infections clear up within a couple of days. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to relieve pain and high temperature – as recommended by the doctor.

Placing a warm flannel or washcloth over the affected ear may also help relieve pain.

Antibiotics are usually only required if symptoms persist or are particularly severe. Your ENT Specialist will recommend the right course of antibiotics after a proper ear examination.


What causes an ear infection?

Most cases of otitis media are caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Often an infection of the respiratory tract (sinuses, throat, airways or lungs) such as the cold or flu can spread into the middle ear.

Younger children are particularly vulnerable to this type of infection as their middle ear is smaller and narrower than an adults’ which makes it easier for an infection to take hold.


Long term ear infection

Ear infections that last for many months are known as chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM). This condition is less common, affecting around 1 in 100 children and 1 in 50 adults.

The most common symptom of CSOM is a persistent and usually painless drainage from the affected ear.

Some degree of hearing loss in the affected ear is also common.


Next Steps – Getting Advice and Treatment


Contact ENT Specialist & Surgeon Dr. Anupam Biswas at (91) 98301 73187 for an appointment to get prompt treatment for all your Ear, Nose, Throat infections / conditions (including pain & problems with Sinus, Larynx, and Upper Respiratory Tract / Lungs).

Get a thorough ENT examination and an objective, prompt & accurate diagnosis of your condition / infection – and get started on the best treatment for your specific situation.

Dr. Anupam Biswas is a highly trained, experienced and respected ENT Specialist / Otolaryngologist who has been serving patients in Kolkata with competence, caring and integrity for over 2 decades.

In addition to in-office medical consultations, Dr. Anupam Biswas is a highly skilled ENT Surgeon who performs various types of ENT Surgery (utilizing the latest microsurgery techniques) at various Kolkata hospitals. Visit the home page for more information.


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