More than 80% of children have at least one middle ear infection before their third birthday, while adults are more likely to develop an inner ear infection. At any age, ear infections should be evaluated by Michael Riesberg, MD, and the team at Riesberg Institute in Pensacola, Florida. They offer comprehensive care that alleviates your symptoms and prevents chronic complications that can arise from ear infections. To schedule an appointment, call the office or use the convenient online booking feature.
An outer ear infection, commonly called swimmer’s ear, affects the outside of your ear together with the ear canal. Swimmer’s ear typically occurs when water stays in the canal and causes a bacterial infection.
If you have an outer ear infection, you’ll experience symptoms such as pain and itching inside the ear, redness and swelling around the outer ear, and the sensation that your ear is blocked. In severe cases, you may develop a fever and pain that spreads to your neck, face, or the side of your head.
A middle ear infection, called otitis media, develops when the air-filled space behind the eardrum becomes inflamed and swollen. The swelling traps fluid in the space, which presses against the eardrum and causes pain.
Adults rarely develop middle ear infections. But otitis media is common in children because of their immature Eustachian tubes. The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the upper throat. When children have an upper respiratory tract infection like a cold, the bacteria easily travel into their Eustachian tubes.
The primary symptoms of a middle ear infection are pain, drainage from the ear, and difficulty hearing. Babies and toddlers may show their pain by tugging at their ear, having a hard time sleeping, and crying more than normal.
Inner ear infections, called vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis, are usually viral infections that occur in adults. Though less common, an inner ear infection can affect anyone when bacteria from a chronic middle ear infection invade the inner ear.
When you have an inner ear infection, you experience symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, and difficulty with balance. You may also develop ringing in your ears, nausea, and problems with hearing or vision.
Treatment depends on the type of infection and the severity of your symptoms. The Riesberg Institute team treats an inner ear infection by cleaning the canal and prescribing ear drops that reduce inflammation and stop bacterial growth.
In most cases, a middle ear infection gets better on its own without antibiotics. Your Riesberg Institute provider may take a wait-and-see approach, treating the pain for a few days to see if the infection clears up before prescribing medication.
The first line of treatment for an inner ear infection may include antibiotics or antiviral medications and medications to treat specific symptoms. If dizziness or imbalance persist, you may need vestibular rehabilitation exercises.
When you develop pain or other problems with your ears, call Riesberg Institute or schedule an appointment online.