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Ear Infections

Ear infections

Ear infections can be incredibly painful and cause permanent damage to the outer, middle and inner ear if not treated correctly. But how are they caused? What are the symptoms and how can they be treated?


What causes an ear infection?

Ear infections can occur in the outer, middle or inner ear and often present with different symptoms.

An Outer Ear Infection can be caused from bacteria infecting the skin of the ear canal. A common outer ear infection is called ‘swimmers ear’ and is caused by water being left inside the ear canal that then breeds bacteria. Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Extreme Pain
  • Muffled sound
  • Painful jaw or neck

Middle Ear Infections often occur when there’s a build up of fluid in the middle ear which becomes infected. This build up happens when a tube (called the eustachian tube) gets blocked or swollen. This tube runs from your ear all the way to the back of your throat and normally works to allow fresh air into the middle ear space. So what causes this blockage?

  • Allergies
  • Colds
  • Sinus infections
  • Smoking
  • Air pressure changes (typically on an airplane)
  • Excessive mucus
  • Infected glands

Children often suffer from middle ear infections. Their eustachian tubes are much narrower and more horizontal than adults, which means they get blocked easily. Children under 6 months with a fever and signs of ear discomfort (eg rubbing their ears) should be taken to a doctor immediately.

Symptoms of a middle ear infection include:

  • Discomfort in the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Uncomfortable pressure within the ear
  • Water or pus-like liquid draining from the ear


Inner Ear Infections can also occur when a virus or bacteria cross into the fluid of the inner ear. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden loss of hearing
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ear
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Fullness in the ear

If you experience these symptoms, it is especially important to see your GP immediately.

How are ear infections treated?

Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms and where the infection is. Generally, if you suspect an ear infection, you should see your GP. If you experience a sudden loss of hearing, you should see your GP immediately.

Pain can be managed my applying a warm clean, cloth to the affected ear or taking pain killers. If pain and discomfort persists, antibiotics may be required to treat the ear infection.

Worried about your ears or hearing? We can assess the outer, middle and inner ear health in our free hearing test. Book a FREE appointment with us today by calling 8331 8047 to see how we can help.


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