Otitis media—that's the medical term for a middle ear infection. While the ailment more commonly plagues young children, ear infections can impact teens and adults, as well, with tobacco smoke, having a cold or flu, and being prone to allergies all being risk factors for repeat episodes. At Arizona Ear, Nose & Throat Physicians in Sun City West, AZ, your team of four otolaryngologists work with patients to diagnose, treat, and prevent this uncomfortable problem. Read below to learn more about ear infections!
Symptoms of ear infections
Ear infections vary widely in intensity and in the symptoms they create. Signs may include:
- Sore throat
- A feeling of fullness in the affected ear
- Drop in hearing
- Fluid behind the eardrum
- Perforation of the eardrum, or tympanic membrane, in severe cases
Diagnosing ear infections
Your ear doctors in Sun City West, AZ, have the expertise to recognize otitis media, and they can make the latest in treatment options available for you. When you come to Arizona Ear, Nose & Throat Physicians, your doctor will review your health history and symptoms, as well as examine your ear with a lighted otoscope. This instrument enables the doctor to see into your ear canal and to observe any inflammation, drainage, and bulging of the eardrum. They may also blow a gentle puff of air onto the ear drum or perform a painless test called a tympanogram to note how well your eardrum moves.
Treating ear infections
With a confirmed diagnosis, your treatment may include:
- Antibiotics and pain medication
- Decongestants and/or steroidal medications (to reduce inflammation)
- Tympanostomy tubes to relieve pressure behind the ear drum (used for chronic otitis media)
Ear tubes, while more common for children, may also help adults who have repeated ear infections. These super-thin plastic tubes create an opening in the eardrum which alleviates pressure build-up due to fluid. Adults and teens may be able to have these placed in the office, but children require hospital placement and anesthesia.
Preventing ear infections
Frankly, some people get more ear infections than others do. Additionally, children, with their frequent colds and more horizontally-oriented eustachian tubes (an anatomical canal between the middle ear and the throat), get ear infections more easily.
While it can be difficult to avoid all ear infections, you may try these strategies to decrease how many you or a loved one get:
- Avoid tobacco smoke
- Control your allergies
- Get treatment for a suspected infection as soon as possible
At Arizona Ear, Nose & Throat Physicians, we want you to know that otitis media can be treated successfully and if chronic, managed properly to avoid sick days away from school or work, as well as prevent more serious health complications (such as hearing loss). If you think you have an ear infection, please call one of our two offices right way for an appointment: For Sun City, call (623) 972-2961, and for Sun City West, phone (623) 975-1660.