A bacterial ear infection can develop in both children and adults. There are various strains of bacteria that are capable of triggering infections in the ear. It is important to note that the ear is divided into 3 regions – outer, middle and inner. The middle region of the ear is positioned behind the eardrum and includes the Eustachian tubes that control pressure in the ear.
What are the forms?
Even though both the outer and middle regions of the ear can end up with bacterial ear infection, the term applies to infection in the middle ear or otitis media. When it comes to otitis media, it is due to infection of the inner region of the ear including the eardrum.
A bacterial ear infection specifically the middle ear can result to ear pain. Take note that this symptom might be hard to detect among children who have not learned to talk yet, thus parents should watch out for tugging or pulling at the ears along with crying.
Both children and adults often develop fever along with minimal hearing loss, dizziness and even a headache. In addition, a feeling that the ear is clogged is also another common symptom.
Common cold and ear infection
The bacteria responsible for causing otitis media are present in the surroundings. A bacterial ear infection often develops after a common cold or other infections since these can cause the accumulation of fluid in the Eustachian tubes.
This provides the bacteria with the ideal breeding place and triggers the development of an infection. Additionally, common cold can also weaken the immune system, thus making it easier for the bacteria to take advantage.
Children particularly those between 2-4 years old are likely to develop bacterial ear infection than adults. A part of this is due to the fact that the Eustachian tubes are shorter in length and narrower than the adults, thus making it easier for infection to develop.
The adenoids which are glands positioned in the rear part of the throat can also block the Eustachian tubes in children which causes the accumulation of fluid. In addition, children who go to day-care centers, bottle-fed or exposed to cigarette smoke are at high risk to develop a bacterial ear infection.
Management of a bacterial ear infection
In most cases, an individual with a bacterial ear infection is not given antibiotics since the infection typically resolves on its own. The individual might be given acetaminophen and numbing ear drops to alleviate the pain. Those who suffer from several ear infections in the past month or children below 6 months old might be prescribed antibiotics.