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When you’re under the weather, waiting to feel better is pretty routine but that simply isn’t the case when you’ve got a bad ear infection. Instead of congestion and sneezing you’ve got to deal with a lot of pain and knowing when to get help can certainly reduce the time you spend suffering.
Before you know it, you’ve gone from bad to worse, it helps to know what an ear infection is to begin with. Being that the primary symptom is pain, it’s easy to confuse regular ear pain with a true infection.
Ear infections can either be viral or bacterial, generally affecting the middle ear. The area fills with fluid, mucus and pus causing pressure that leads to inflammation. The causes can be variable but ear infections are very common in children, usually after a cold.
As we mentioned before, the primary symptom is pain. That isn’t much to go on so it’s always best to look out for additional symptoms such as:
Besides the symptoms, one good way to visually check is the appearance of the eardrum. If it’s bulging and filled with fluid, there’s a good chance it’s an ear infection. The thing is, ear infections can resolve on their own so the question is: How much pain is too much?
Knowing how to spot an ear infection is great but you should also know when it’s become a problem. Luckily, it’s a simple matter of time. That doesn’t mean you have to sit on your hands and ride out the pain though.
The first move you make should be to take a painkiller. This might not seem like it’s going to deal with the infection but its you won’t have to endure pain while you wait. You may instinctively want to take antibiotics to flush the infection out of your system, but that isn’t wise for a few reasons.
First, you may not need them. If you expose your body constantly to antibiotics, infections can adapt and viruses adapt. Besides that, being a little trigger-happy with antibiotics can lead to allergies or upset stomachs.
After your painkillers, you just have to wait. If your infection persists after three days it’s time to think about seeing a specialist. It’s a good thing there are some out there that specialize in this kind of thing.
Ear, Nose and Throat doctors or ENTs are adept at dealing with ear infections. The body part isn’t just part of their job title either. ENTs can employ a variety of tests to see if there’s another cause to your infection (like swimmer’s ear) and recommend a whole host of different treatments.
At Houston Sinus & Allergy, we assess patients for the severity of their condition, and determine a treatment. Book an assessment with our experienced ENT, Dr. Nguyen, and start feeling better.
Knowing how long to deal with discomfort while keeping pain minimal is all you need to know to avoid bad ear infections. If your ear pain isn’t a false alarm, seeing a specialist can certainly prevent it from getting any worse.