We’ve had earaches too, and we know they are no fun. Getting relief at home is not a cure for an ear infection (or otitis media), but these tips sure will help!
With cold and flu season, as well as the customary cooler temperatures, comes the increased risk of ear infection for children and adults. Reducing the risk of flu or cold helps curb the chance of getting an ear infection. Flu vaccine and hand washing can go a long way toward prevention, but be sure to seek medical attention if you experience an ear infection.
No matter how many preventive measures you’ve taken, you have probably had an ear infection at some point in your life. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, about 62 percent of children in developed countries will have their first one by the age of 1, more than 80 percent by their third birthday, and nearly 100 percent will have at least one episode by age 5. Including lost wages for parents, the total cost of estimated treatments is $6 billion.
Relieving Ear Infection Pain
At-home ear infection remedies can help to ease an earache, but a hearing professional should always be consulted when you suspect you or your child has an ear infection.
- Amoxicillin (a.k.a. the pink medicine) is a penicillin antibiotic that fights bacteria.
- Even if you’re on antibiotics, consider taking pain medication.
- Anesthetic eardrops can also help.
- Keep your head elevated to relieve the pressure.
- Apply a warm, wet cloth to your face near the ear.
- Know what you’re dealing with; ear pain doesn’t necessarily point to an infection.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses that create inflammation of the middle ear when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. In children, they usually start when the child has a sore throat, cold, or other upper-respiratory infection.
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria (commonly known as pneumococcus) are thought to cause 50 to 60 percent of cases of otitis media. Before the vaccine for it became available, each pneumococcal infection caused:
- about 5 million ear infections;
- more than 700 cases of meningitis;
- 13,000 blood infections (septicemia); and
- other health problems, including pneumonia, deafness, and brain damage.
Also known as a punctured eardrum, a perforated eardrum is a break or hole in the eardrum, most commonly caused by an ear infection, physical damage, or a loud noise. Looking and functioning like the covering on a drum, the eardrum, or tympanic membrane, protects the delicate middle and inner ear from harmful elements. Rupturing this delicate membrane can lead to pain, hearing loss, tinnitus, and/or ear drainage. While not always preventable, trauma-induced instances can be avoided by not inserting foreign objects into the ear canal.
Though they do occur in adults, ear infections with resultant eardrum perforations occur more frequently in children. An ear infection can cause fluid to build up in the middle-ear space, creating pressure on the eardrum and leading to rupture.