Ear infections are a very common type of infection that affects both children and adults, although children are much more likely to suffer from one. Ear infections refer to your middle ear, the space just behind your ear drum that’s filled with air. They’re very uncomfortable and for young children, their behavior is sure to reflect that they’re in pain. Preventing ear infections isn’t always possible but knowing what causes them can help you to try!
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What Causes an Ear Infection?
Ear infections happen when bacteria or a virus get stuck in your middle ear. Most commonly, this happens when you’re already sick with another viral infection, like the cold or flu. Allergies can also cause an ear infection. As the sinus cavities swell, it prevents proper drainage, allowing bacteria to grow. Children are more likely to get ear infections because of the size and shape of their inner ear.
Symptoms tend to be worse in younger children suffering from an ear infection. Infants may pull or tug at their ears as an early sign of an infection. They will also likely be fussier, cry more frequently, and have difficulty sleeping. That difficulty sleeping is caused by the pain in the ear becoming worse when lying down. You may also notice a low-grade fever, drainage from the ear, and loss of appetite.
Adults suffering from an ear infection typically have less of these symptoms. Most adults report ear pain, drainage from the ear, and difficulty hearing.
While some ear infections may clear up on their own, it’s too much of a risk to sit around to wait and find out. An ear infection that continues to get worse can cause permanent damage to you or your child’s hearing. You should visit the doctor immediately if you notice drainage, ear pain lasting more than a day, or ear pain that’s disrupting sleep. If you notice your child is acting fussy after recently having a cold or other upper respiratory infection, go to the doctor to check for signs of an ear infection.
An urgent care center provides a great place to take you or your child for quick and effective treatment of an ear infection. Waiting for an available appointment at the pediatrician isn’t an option when your child is in pain, so let the urgent care staff help! Contact an urgent care near you to learn more about their hours of operation and accepted insurance plans.