Ear infections can have a variety of causes – viral, bacterial and fungal – and can affect different parts of the ear. Common ear infections include the outer ear (or what is commonly known as “swimmer’s ear”), middle-ear infections and inner-ear infections. Ear infections can be caused by scratching the ear canal when cleaning their ear, especially if a cotton-tipped applicator or dangerously sharp small object, such as a hair clip, is used. In other cases, a middle ear infection (otitis media) can cause an external infection to develop through the draining of pus into the ear canal through a hole in the eardrum. Ear infections can be painful because of inflammation and fluid build up in the middle ear. Ear infections can be chronic or acute. Acute ear infections are painful but short in duration. Chronic ear infections do not clear up, or they recur many times and can cause permanent damage to the middle and inner ear. Ear infections occur when one of your Eustachian tubes becomes swollen or blocked and fluid builds up in your middle ear. Eustachian tubes are small tubes that run from each ear directly to the back of the throat. Allergies, colds, and smoking can all cause these tubes to become blocked.
- Mild to severe pain (babies will often tug at their ears)
- Drainage from the ear – can be thick, yellow, or bloody
- Trouble sleeping
- Hearing loss
- Balance problems
- Feeling of pressure inside the ear
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please contact your local Urgent Care.
If you’re experiencing pain, or self-treatment has been ineffective, you should visit your nearest Urgent Care, where a doctor can examine your ear with special instruments that determine how much fluid is in your ear and also test the movement of your eardrum. Depending on what type of ear infection you have a doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication, such as antibiotics or ear drops, to provide fast relief.