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Inner Ear Infection

The infection of the inner ear can be present on different levels, causing a wide range of symptoms. Most people decided to visit the doctor as the inner ear infection is causing a lot of pain. Depending on how far the infection is located, the doctor might decide to use an ear scope to observe the modifications.         Identifying the exact location of the infection is just as important as determining the pathogenic organisms responsible for the infection. It is important for the treatment not to be delayed; otherwise, the infection can become worse, leading to hearing loss.

The inner ear infection can be acute or chronic. Chronic infections are often the result of acute infections that have been poorly treated or not treated at all. These are the ones that are most difficult to treat and also the ones that can cause permanent damage. There are a lot of people who have the tendency to treat the inner ear infection with antibiotics, without visiting a doctor first. While it is true that the infection can be caused by bacteria, one must remember that viral infections are also possible. The administration of the wrong antibiotic in case of a bacterial infection can also cause the bacteria to become stronger.

Symptoms of Inner Ear Infection

inner ear infectionThese are the most common symptoms of the inner ear infection:

Pain

  • Range from mild to severe
  • Acute infection – sharp, pulsating pain
  • Chronic infection – dull, constant pain
  • Warmth and tenderness to the touch can accompany the pain

Sensation of having something in the ear

  • This is actually the inflammation that commonly occurs with the infection

Ringing in the ear

  • This appears when the infection affects the vestibular nerve

Discharge from the ear

  • This is especially valid if the infection is caused by bacteria

Hearing loss/damage

  • Appears most often in chronic infections of the inner ear

Systemic symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • State of general discomfort
  • Dizziness (vestibular nerve affected by the infection).

What are the Causes of Inner Ear Infection?

These are the most common causes that lead to the inner ear infection:

  • Common cold
  • Allergy
  • Infection of the middle ear
  • Infection of the sinuses
  • Production of mucous in excess
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Infection of the adenoids

The following are considered to be risk factors for developing inner ear infections:

  • Age – small children are more predisposed to such kind of infections
  • Reduced immunity
  • Changes in altitude/climate
  • Previous infections of the ear

The inner ear infection can either be caused by bacteria or viruses. When caused by bacteria, the infection is known as serous labyrinthitis. This type of infection is the result of a middle ear infection that has been poorly treated and now has become chronic. Another type of bacterial infection of the inner ear is suppurative labyrinthitis, a condition which is less encountered than the previously mentioned one. In this case, the bacteria can come from an infection of the middle ear or as result of bacterial meningitis.

Viral inner ear infections are more often encountered than the bacterial ones. The infection of the inner ear with a virus can appear as part of a viral illness affecting the entire body, such is the case of childhood infectious diseases (measles) or mononucleosis. In many situations, the infection is located just in the inner ear, affecting either the labyrinth or the nerves in the area (such as the vestibule-cochlear nerve). Viral infections of the inner ear can range from mild to severe, including viral neuritis and viral labyrinthitis. The viruses most commonly incriminated in the appearance of inner ear infections are: herpetic viruses, influenza virus or Epstein-Barr.

How long does Inner ear infection last?

As it was already mentioned, there are two types of inner ear infection, meaning acute and chronic. In case of the acute inner ear infection, this condition might last somewhere around two weeks, extending to a month if the symptoms are not severe. The condition can turn into a chronic infection, if the symptoms are ignored and the proper treatment is administered. Chronic infections of the inner ear can last for several years, leading in time to damage and hearing loss.

Treatment

The following treatments are recommended for inner ear infections:

Antibiotics

  • The right antibiotic can be prescribed for an inner ear infection only after the bacteria responsible have been identified
  • The antibiotic should be taken for as long as it is recommended by the doctor, otherwise the infection will not go away and it will turn into a chronic condition
  • Probiotics are recommended to be taken during the treatment with antibiotics, so as to protect the digestive system

Anti-viral medication

  • This is recommended in case of inner ear infection caused by a virus
  • One of the best anti-viral medications is Acyclovir

Symptomatic treatment

  • Medication to control the nausea, vomiting and dizziness
  • Ear drops to relieve pain
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Decongestants

Intravenous fluids

  • These are recommended in severe cases of inner ear infections, to keep the body hydrated

Corticosteroids

  • These can help with the inflammation
  • Cannot be administered for prolonged periods of time, as they have serious side-effects

Drainage of the infection

  • Special tubes are used to eliminate the infection from the inner ear

Adenoids removal

  • Can improve the chronic infection.

Home Remedies

The following home remedies are recommended for inner ear infections:

  • If the infection is recent and you are in a lot of pain, applying a warm compress over the affected area can help with the symptoms.
  • Fill a sock with warm salt and place it over the ear. The salt will draw the liquid from the ear, reducing the inflammation and relieving the pain.
  • Crush some garlic and put it into a cloth. Garlic has anti-bacterial properties and it can help with the symptoms of bacterial infections.

Other home remedies:

  • Fresh basil/basil oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Bottle with warm water
  • Onions
  • Tea tree oil
  • Mango leaves/mango leaf juice.

The home remedies are recommended as symptomatic treatment but they cannot cure the infection. Consult a doctor and obtain the right treatment.


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