Pain, hearing loss, fever, and even a change in balance could indicate an ear infection. Affecting the outer part of the ear, the middle ear structures or the inner ear, otitis can become chronic. At Ear, Nose, Throat St. Luke Balloon Sinuplasty, Dr. Paul Burk treats scores of patients suffering from the discomforts of ear infections. Read below to learn the details on otitis interna, otitis externa, and otitis media, along with details on how your St. Luke's Hospital ENT doctor can help.
How and where infections happen
Your ear has three distinct sections: the outer ear, or pinna, made of flesh and cartilage, your middle ear, composed of the auditory canal and eardrum. and the complex bony inner ear which conducts sound vibrations that lead to the brain. Your Eustachian tube extends from the middle ear to the throat and is a frequent site of inflammation and mucous after a severe cold, flu, or other infection.
Although some parts are more prone to infection, any part of the ear may become infected. The outer part of the ear often suffers a bacterial infection called swimmer's ear. The middle ear is the site of typical ear problem called otitis media, which is especially prevalent in young children. The inner ear, or labyrinth, may also become inflamed, causing dizziness, imbalance, and nausea. Common to all these infections can be pain, fever, and temporary hearing loss.
Diagnosis and treatment
Physical examination by your St. Luke ENT physician, Dr. Paul Burk, is critical to staving off and healing any type of ear infection. Dr. Burk does a routine otolaryngeal check, including:
- A review of medical history, current medications, and symptoms
- Visual inspection in each ear with a lighted otoscope
- CAT scan and/or MRI imaging as needed
To treat pain, Dr. Burk often recommends over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen or warm compresses to the affected side. Antibiotics, either in the form of ear drops or oral medications, are often prescribed and sometimes, anti-inflammatory steroids reduce swelling. Your physician will formulate a treatment plan to cure your acute infection and to help you avoid future infections if possible.
In children who have three or more ear episodes of otitis media in six months, many ENT physicians prescribe installation of ear tubes. These tiny tubes facilitate drainage of fluid from behind the ear drum, reports VeryWellHealth.
If you are seeking treatment for a suspected ear infection, call one of our three convenient offices located in De Paul (314-770-0708),St. Luke's Hospital (314) 477-4995, and Des Peres, MO (314-821-5002).