Otitis, the reason your ears hurt

Those who have suffered from otitis know what they are facing and those who do not, will learn it along the lines that make up this text. An otitis is an infection that has different ways of expressing itself, from something relatively light to something that will make us cry in pain. You have to be very careful and don’t let it go by believing that “this will go away in 2 days.”

Otitis is not the end of the world, but what is clear is that all of us who are reading this are going to learn how to prevent the appearance of these painful infections. First we are going to really explain what they are and what they consist of, then what causes them, their symptoms, some treatments and how to prevent otitis or ear infection.

What is otitis?

I wish to speak of this as a child does his bag of goodies or his puppy, but no. It is not a pleasant process and that everyone wants to live, quite the contrary, since its persistence can lead to hearing loss.

Getting to the heart of the matter, an otitis is an inflation of the ear and there are two types, otitis media and external otitis. The first is the most common in both school and adult ages and is of bacterial origin. The second only affects the outer ear and is typical of swimmers.

Middle ear infection is located just behind the eardrum and occurs when the Eustachian tube (connects the middle ear to the throat) becomes blocked for some reason. The function of the tube is to drain the fluid and complications come when that drainage system is clogged and the process of infection and subsequent suppuration begins.

This disease is quite common in young children, but its persistence over time and not treating infections correctly can lead to hearing loss. Let us bear in mind that this fluid accumulated in the ear causes pressure in the auditory cavity and can even perforate the eardrum .

Types of otitis media

It is convenient to differentiate the levels of infection, although it will really be the otolaryngologist who determines the severity and treatment of the infection in the middle ear.

  • Acute: usually lasts less than 3 weeks, appears suddenly, and goes away quickly. It is known as Acute Otitis Media (AOM).
  • Subacute: the infection accompanies us for a period of 3 months.
  • Chronic: appears and disappears for more than 3 months.

According to the condition of otitis media, we can subdivide into 4 different types:

  • Meningitis: The outer layer of the eardrum becomes inflamed.
  • Suppurative AOM: the acute infection, but with suppuration and usually lasts a few days.
  • Secretory otitis media: when there is fluid in the middle ear, but fortunately the eardrum is intact. It is also known as serous otitis media, otitis media with effusion, or mucous otitis media.
  • Chronic suppurative otitis media: there is suppuration of fluid through the external auditory canal, which would mean that the eardrum is perforated.

Lavar el pelo sin protección puede causar otitis en adultos

Causes and risk factors

As we have said, this disease affects children and adults, so the causes are sometimes very similar, what changes is that we do not react the same to pain or to the same causes:

  • Allergies
  • Colds
  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Excess mucus and saliva (in the case of babies).
  • Diving, swimming and other water activities without protection.

Among the risk factors we wanted to highlight the most common and to which we often do not pay attention:

  • Take the child to daycare.
  • Sudden changes in altitude and weather (holidays).
  • Cold weather.
  • Excess water (not clean) without protection.
  • Age.
  • Air pollution.
  • Cleft palate.
  • Picking nose and ear with dirty hands.
  • Insufficient or poor hearing hygiene (we do not recommend using swabs).
  • Smoke.
  • Family background.
  • Poorly cured infections.
  • Use a pacifier.
  • Congenital defect

How to detect otitis?

From now on we say that when we have an ear infection it is very noticeable, even so, it is true that not all of us are affected the same and that sometimes we are not able to detect it in time, only when our ear is already supplying and the pain is unbearable.

  • Itching in the ear.
  • Irritation from discomfort.
  • Pain.
  • Secretion.
  • Fever.
  • Crying.
  • General discomfort.
  • Earache.
  • Tinnitus (tinnitus).
  • Lack of hearing.
  • Dizziness, vertigo and lack of balance.

A timely diagnosis can save our ears

As is evident, we are not an authority capable of indicating who has or does not have otitis and what is the treatment to follow. If we notice some of the symptoms that we have listed in the previous section, we have to go to a doctor to eliminate the infection in time and that it does not go away.

If we have otitis and infections in our medical history, the health professional we go to should know, if they do not see it in the system, we will tell them about it and we will explain exactly how those other times were and what treatment they gave us.

The doctor will need to do an otoscopic examination to see inside the ear and determine what damage there is, the level of infection, etc. Another diagnosis is usually tympanometry, which helps doctors confirm what they have seen and noticed in the previous diagnosis.

Finally, in some cases only, an audiometry test is usually done, which consists of putting on headphones through which sounds are coming out and we must raise our hands or press the button when we hear the sound.

Una fotografía de la oreja de un bebé con posible otitis

Main treatments against otitis media

Depending on the severity, one treatment or another will be determined, but let’s not forget that this infection is a bacterium and what works best are antibiotics . The duration of treatment is usually between 3 and 15 days, and they are usually drops or orally (in this case, do not forget the stomach protector).

After 48 hours one begins to notice such relief that many people believe that they no longer need to follow the treatment that is a superior being and has already been cured, but NO. We are all the same and the treatment must be continued to the letter, otherwise in a few weeks we will be able to suffer another water otitis again.

We can cut the treatment in the case in which there are side effects such as hives, burning, pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fainting, suffocation, etc.

What we do not recommend is to self-medicate, that is never, except to be nervous about an exam or an interview and take a lime, or an anti-inflammatory for menstrual pain, for example. In case of persistent and localized pain, it is best to see a doctor.

By this we mean that, if we first have an infection in the right ear and after 4 weeks in the left ear, we should not use the same medication, since this correlation of events can help the doctor to determine some other problem of health.

Prevention is better than cure…

To prevent and significantly reduce the risk of otitis, we are going to list a series of tips that, a priori, may seem very basic to us, but which are advice given by medical professionals:

  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Do not abuse antibiotics.
  • Do not pick at the ears.
  • Do not use ear cleaners and avoid swabs.
  • Vaccinate children according to their vaccination schedule.
  • Detect infections early.
  • Choose breastfeeding whenever possible.
  • Always clean toys.
  • Use special plugs for the pool, beach, shower, etc., whether or not you have ear problems.
  • Do not put objects in the ears and do not share headphones with other people.
  • Ventilate and let the ears breathe and do not plug them for a long time.
  • Do not expose yourself to tobacco smoke.