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Ear infection

The doctors on Heal can help diagnose and treat ear infections. An ear infection (acute otitis media) occurs when fluid builds up in the area behind the eardrum and then becomes infected. Ear infections, also called Swimmer’s Ear, are usually caused by Streptococcus bacteria, but can also be caused by viruses.

For most adults, the fluid that enters the middle ear area typically drains on its own through the eustachian tube, a narrow tube which connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat. In adults, the eustachian tube is angled vertically, which makes it less likely for fluid to become trapped. Children are more prone to ear infections because their eustachian tubes are angled horizontally, so fluid has a harder time draining from the middle ear.

Common symptoms of ear infections include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fever of 100℉ or above
  • Fluid drainage from the ear
  • Headache
  • Tugging at the ear
  • Temporary reduction in hearing
  • Change in balance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability and crying

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to prevent ear infections in children is to make sure your child is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations and ensure that they receive a flu vaccine every year, as ear infections often occur after upper respiratory infections (URIs) including influenza and the common cold, have resolved. During flu season (which spans from late September to March), Heal offers flu shots for kids ages 6 months and up.

It is also recommended to avoid putting foreign objects in the ears including cotton swabs, as these can cause injuries to the ear canal which can then become infected. Additionally, exposure to environmental irritants including cigarette smoke and pollution can increase the number of colds your child contracts, which can then lead to more ear infections.

For infants, breastfeeding has been shown to provide protection from infections, including ear infections. Although most ear infections clear up on their own, they can be more serious conditions for infants and small children. Persistent ear infections can lead to more serious complications down the line including hearing problems.

Because symptoms of an ear infection can also indicate a number of other conditions, it’s important to seek medical attention in order to get an accurate diagnosis and ensure proper treatment. If you suspect your child might have an ear infection which is accompanied by a fever of over 100 degrees, don’t hesitate to book a doctor house call with Heal. A doctor can perform a complete, thorough examination, including a full check of your child’s ears, nose, and throat, and determine if your child’s symptoms indicate an ear infection.

After an examination, your child’s doctor will provide a comprehensive treatment plan and tips for managing pain and other symptoms. Antibiotics are normally not indicated for ear infections, as most of the time, your child’s immune system will fight off the infection in time. If the doctor deems it necessary, in some cases they may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial ear infections, which they can send electronically to your preferred pharmacy.

If your child is suffering from symptoms of an ear infection, book a house call with a licensed primary care doctor with Heal.