Ear infections are quite common and one of the most misunderstood ailments as well. There are many organisms that could lead to a potential infection, which includes- bacteria, fungi or a virus. These can infect any part of the ear, and most of the times can be very painful. The ear is a complex organ, and so are the infection, and the ear nose throat allergy which is why we are here today to break it down, to help you better understand the different types of ear infections.
So here is a breakdown of the ear in general –
There are three parts of the ear, the external ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer or external ear is made up of the canal that leads to the eardrum. One of the most common infections of the outer ear is the Otitis Externa, which is characterised by inflammation of the outer ear and is also called swimmers ears.
The middle ear comes after the ear drum and consists of three small bones (the smallest bones in the body). These are extremely important as they amplify the sound and send it to the inner ear, as well as help maintain balance. Otitis Media is a common infection that occurs in children. This can be acute or chronic. In severe cases, the ear drum can also burst due to pus accumulation, but does tend to heal itself.
The inner ear basically consists of the electrical impulses that are sent to the brain. Infection to this part of the ear can be pretty severe, and can be caused by virus infection, bacteria or fungi. Symptoms of an inner ear infection can be vertigo- mild to severe, blister presentations on the ear canal, outer ear, face and neck.
What causes ear infections?
Some of the most common reasons for a Paediatrician’s visit for most parents are that their toddler or child has contracted an ear infection. The discharge and inflammation had been already a gruesome sight, but the fever and pain are just intolerable most of the time. So what causes ear infections? While the ear is an important organ, which is exposed to the outside world, it’s also open up to the inside, and holds some of the most important systems in the body, including the one that makes us stand on our feet and gives us the perception of balance.
The Eustachian tube, the tube is vital to maintain air pressure and regulates hearing, and is also connected to the nasopharynx. It also regulates secretion from the middle ear to the throat. This is one of the main reasons, that we feel something open up; this is because when we do swallow, a small muscle opens and closes that allows the drainage of secretion and equalization of air pressure. When the Eustachian is infected with bacteria, it gets blocked and can cause irritation, mild deafness and in severe cases rupture of ear drums.
Other reasons why we get ear infections are upper respiratory tract infection, which is one of the other most common, but not so severe infection of the ear. If you do feel discomfort for a long time, it is best you consult your family physician. Age, cleft palate, swimming, travelling, changes in air pressure, frequent and vigorous cleaning of the ear are some reasons you may develop an ear infection.