According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor.” These infections can range from small, non-threatening cases to extremely serious and possibly even fatal ones.
Ear Infection Symptoms
The symptoms of an ear infection in adults include earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain), a sharp stabbing pain with immediate warm drainage from the ear canal, a feeling of fullness in the ear, nausea, muffled hearing and ear drainage. In children, the symptoms include tugging at the ear, poor sleep, fever, irritability, restlessness, ear discharge, reduced appetite and crying at night when lying down.
While the most common type of infection is an acute minor inflammation of the inner ear, sometimes, if left untreated, even these little infections can turn into something much more serious such as mastoiditis or meningitis.
Mastoiditis is a bacterial infection of the mastoid bone. The mastoid bone, which sits behind the ear, consists of air spaces that help drain the middle ear. When the mastoid cells become infected or inflamed, often as a result of a middle ear infection (otitis media), mastoiditis can develop. In acute mastoiditis, infection may spread outside of the mastoid bone and cause serious health complications. Mastoiditis typically affects children, but adults can also be affected.
Meningitis is one sickness that can arise from an improperly treated ear infection. Meningitis has two forms: viral and bacterial. Though viral meningitis is typically not fatal, the bacterial type will often cause permanent hearing loss when not treated promptly.
If a child, or even an adult for that matter, shows certain symptoms such as a stiff neck, fever, nausea and vomiting, severe headaches, and dizziness, immediate action should be taken, as these are all signs of meningitis. If a person exhibits these signs, he or she should be brought to an emergency department for further examination.
No matter the situation, an ear infection is not usually anything to fret about; but, if there is any doubt that something serious may be occurring, seek medical attention right away. If you have concerns about ear infection symptoms contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see an ear nose throat specialist.