What Causes Ear Infections?

Ear infection is a common issue among infants and children but there are numerous factors that increase the risk of an ear infection among adults too.
A little precaution and healthy habits can save you from this weird irritation or ear infection.

If you haven’t ever felt a throbbing pain in your ear, then, you are one lucky lot. Most of us don’t even remember the first time we actually felt some discomfort in our ear. Infants between 6-15 months are common victims of ear infections.
Ear infection is a common problem and usually, occurs due to some bacterial or viral infection affecting the middle ear. Not all ear infections are similar – the most common, ‘Swimmer’s ear’ affects outer ear canal also known as Otitis Externa. While the other is generally an inflammation of the middle ear also known as Otitis Media.1

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So, What Actually Causes An Ear Infection?

Eustachian tubes are small tubes that run from each ear and connects nasopharynx with the middle ear. Ear infections generally occur because of blockage in either or both these tubes which may result in blockage and fluid secretion. Various factors are responsible for Eustachian blockage, some of which are listed as below:

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  • Cold Weather
  • Allergies
  • Family history of ear infections
  • Ear injury
  • Sinus infection
  • Water in ear
  • Smoking
  • Excess mucus secretion
  • Inflammation of adenoids

Factors That Might Increase Your Probability For An Ear Infection

There is no denying that children and infants have a higher risk of ear infection as they have short and narrow Eustachian tubes. But this does not rule out the risk of ear infection among adults. As there are numerous factors that can provoke this issue.

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Altitude Change

Frequent flyers might have a higher risk of ear infection. As there is a drop in the pressure while take off, however, during landing the pressure returns to the normal level but the air gets trapped inside your ear resulting either in blockage or fluid build-up.

Smoking

Exposure to smoke is one of the major risk factor leading to ear infections. Even passive smoking might result in irritation in ears. Smoke that enters your ear creates a blockage in Eustachian tubes resulting in an infection.

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Climate Change

Cold weather generally results in upper respiratory viral infection such as cold or flu which further results in inflammation of Eustachian tubes. The air gets trapped in the tubes that might eventually transform into an ear infection.

Allergies

Allergies to pollen grains, dust, certain food ingredients may result in a similar upper respiratory viral infection that may build up as an ear infection.

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What Are Some Of The Common Symptoms Of An Ear Infection?

The symptoms of an ear infection may or may not be persistent as chronic ear infections generally get ignored as a mild pain or a symptom for cold. Some of the most common symptoms are listed below:

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  • Mellow or mild pain in ear
  • Irritation or discomfort inside the ear
  • Pressure build-up inside the ear that persists for a long duration
  • Fussiness in young infants
  • Pus-like secretion from ear
  • Difficulty in hearing

In case, your infant is suffering from fever, you need to immediately see a doctor as it might be an early symptom of an ear infection.

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Tips To Prevent Ear Infection

Prevention is better than cure – it is always advised to follow a basic hygienic code of conduct in order to avoid any kind of ear trouble. Some of the best tips are as below:

  • Do not clean your ear with any foreign body ( ear buds, bobby pins especially)
  • Wash your hands often
  • Breastfeed your infants
  • Avoid sharing a smoke with others
  • Keep immunizations up to date