What Are Ear Infections?

Ear infections are especially common among children as they affect five out of every six kids before they reach 3 years old. However, they occur among adults, too!

To help you better understand these common infections, our AFC Urgent Care Hixson team provides some helpful info below.

What Is an Ear Infection?

An ear infection occurs when a bacterial or viral infection affects the middle ear—the sections of your ear just behind the eardrum. When the middle ear is infected, it can be painful because of inflammation and fluid buildup.

Unlike childhood ear infections, which are often minor and pass quickly, adult ear infections are frequently signs of a more serious health problem. We’ve listed some common ear infection symptoms that both adults and children share below.

Common Ear Infection Symptoms

  • Ear pain, especially when lying down
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble hearing or responding to sounds
  • Loss of balance
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Are There Different Kinds of Ear Infections?

There are. While a middle ear infection is the most common type of infection, outer and inner infections exist as well.

An inner ear infection is usually a case of ear inflammation rather than an infection. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting and ear pain are typical symptoms of inner ear trouble. An outer ear infection, such as swimmer’s ear, is also known as “otitis externa” and often starts as an itchy rash.

Ways to Prevent Future Ear Infections

  • Keep your ears clean by washing them and using a cotton swab carefully. Make sure you dry your ears completely after swimming or taking a shower.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke as much as you can.
  • Manage your allergies by avoiding triggers and keeping up with allergy medications.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Try to avoid people who have colds or other upper respiratory problems.
  • Make sure your vaccines are up to date.

If you believe you have an ear infection or have any other general medical concerns, don’t hesitate to visit our AFC Urgent Care Hixson team!