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Ear Infection

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 24 Mar 2016 | comments*Discuss
Ear Infection

Ear infections can be a very unpleasant experience for the sufferer and symptoms can vary from person to person.Infections of the ear are most likely to affect the outer ear (otitis externa) or the middle ear (otitis media) and can occur in anyone but are more common in children.

Causes Of An Ear Infection

Ear infections usually form after exposure to a bacteria, virus or fungus.The reasons as to how these substances are introduced into the ear can range from a build-up of mucous, normally after a head cold, sore throat, allergic response, after the introduction of a foreign body into the ear or because of exposure to the germs from another source. Sharing hearing devices, earrings, spending long periods of time in a swimming pool that does not meet regulatory guidelines or other methods of cross contamination can all also contribute to the likelihood of an infection developing.

Infections of the middle ear can cause the eardrum to swell and become inflamed which can cause nausea and vomiting and quite severe pain.

Signs And Symptoms Of An Ear Infection

Most sufferers will experience some amount of being general unwell and this is often accompanied by a high temperature and earache.If pain increases, or there is bleeding, discharge or particularly high fever, the infection will probably need treating with prescribed medication.Untreated infections can lead to perforation of the eardrum due to inflammation, swelling or a build up of pus or fluid within the ear.


The recommended treatment for an ear infection depends of the severity, location and duration of the infection and many infections will clear up by themselves using the body’s natural responses of its immune system. Most infections will start to clear up after 72 hours, though slight hearing loss and discomfort can persist for a few weeks longer.

If the cause is thought to be fungal, anti-fugal creams and drops will be useful. Your GP or pharmacist will be able to suggest an appropriate preparation.Pain relief and anti-biotics are the most likely treatment needed though this prescription will depend on the nature of the infection and the location. Prescriptions may be in the form of drops, creams, liquid suspensions or tablets. The full course of anti-biotic must be taken in order for the infection to be totally resolved.

Occasionally the use of a steroid cream will be suggested to help reduce swelling, and sometimes children will be offered the option of having small tubes (grommets) inserted into their ears in order to keep the canal open and to let infections and fluids drain out more easily.

Complications Of Ear Infections

Very rarely, an infection may cause some longer-term problems such as the infection spreading to the bones of the ear or perforation of the eardrum. Both conditions will be diagnosed by either your GP or an ENT specialist and will be treated accordingly.

Ear infections are very common and usually harmless occurrences that can happen to anyone, especially children. The causes for an ear infection vary greatly and medical treatment is sometimes not necessary, though if it is, will depend on the type of infection, location and severity.

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I've had a Ear infection now for 8 weeks nearly 9 weeks, I've seen the doctor many times and I've been given lots of anibotics and strong painkiller but nothing is working, my manger at work is now on my back thinking that I'm lieing as she thinks you would never have a ear infection for this long and says is another reason for not coming to work I said no if my ears where fine I would be back at work I've got an apointment with a ENT doctor but not till April, I want sorted soon as it's getting me down please help
SS - 24-Mar-16 @ 10:05 PM
@LisaS - it must be awful for you to go through such pain consistently. Unfortunately, we are unable to give direct medical advice, so there is not much we can really do here to help. Can you afford to go privately, that is one way that you know you'll get the attention that you need? Even if it's just to the diagnosis stage. If not there really isn't anything else you can do apart from keep going to your doctor and continue with your hospital appointments insisting that it is impeding on your day-to-day life, and hoping they are able to diagnose you soon.
EarHelp - 10-Nov-14 @ 10:15 AM
I suffered with ear infections as a child (a lot) but nothing was ever done, just the usual antibiotics etc. They went away for most of my teens but I am now 26 and have had an ear infection almost monthly for the past two years - at times they are so painful I have resulted to going to the A&E. I sometimes get sick with them etc and it is seriously impacting my work and home life. I have been referred to the ENT several times resulting in nothing being done. I have been prescribed many different drops and antibiotics but they just keep coming back! I try to keep my ears dry when showering etc and keep them out of the wind. I have been tested negative for diabetes. I am currently suffering with a pretty bad infection and I am waiting for a referral date to the ENT to come through again. Its very frustrating for me and my family who continually ask 'they must be able to do something' - can they? What about Grommets? Problem is I see a different GP every time I go to my doctors and they shrug me off! I feel helpless, any suggestions or advise would be welcome. Thanks
LisaS - 7-Nov-14 @ 3:30 PM
Hi. I have had a ear infection for 5 months and it makes my whole left side sore do you have any ideas as it is making my bone behind my ear hurt too. Do you have any idea what it is?
cookie - 27-Sep-14 @ 2:11 PM
@patty, if the prescribed drugs don't make it any better then you need to go back to your GP.
jps - 19-Aug-14 @ 12:28 PM
I have a ear infection in my left ear also my left hand side of my face is slightly swollen and inflamed and painfull doctor prescribed Flucloxacillin capsules what can I do
Patty - 19-Aug-14 @ 11:53 AM
what is the best talet for ear infection no pencillin in it or a licquid !
KINGY - 12-Aug-13 @ 1:51 PM
i have sharp shooting pains in my left ear ,now and again it will pain me in my right ear.went to gp who said my iner ear looked red and gave me antibiotics.that did not work,so gp tried a different one.i didnt have any pain for a week ,but then the pain came back with vengence.i have had this sharp shooting pain for over 4 months now.it is realy pulling me down,please help
tina - 4-May-13 @ 1:57 PM
Ive had intense pain in left ear and down side of my face, hearing loss and noise in my ear for a week. the nurse at gps surgery said I need my ears syringing. told me to go and take painkillers and if it doesnt get any better make an appointment in 7-10 days. I am not sleeping because of the pain and it it very hard to eat and the pain is reducing me to tears some days. (which is not like me at all). trying to get an appointment with the gp is impossible what shall I do?
shazza - 6-Nov-12 @ 6:36 AM
It is vital that you see your gp if symptoms persist, i had an inner ear infection and wasnt treating it correctly, i had ear drops but what with working 12 hour shifts with only an hours break, it was difficult to keep putting drops in without interrupting my work, i was missing drops and after about a week the pain was awful, i kept taking ibuprofen which didnt do much for the pain, and then after another week i was utterly exhausted, i felt very ill, it felt like i had the flu but without the bunged up nose and was getting hardly any sleep because the worst pain happens during the night, i finally made an appointment with my doctor, he said "how can i help?" and i said "i'd like you to chop my ear off please." he laughed but i was deadly serious, he then proceeded to check my ear and told me i had an inner and outer ear infection which had also led to cellulitus spreading down my neck, this was dangerous as it can turn into blood poisoning, he sent me to hospital straight away, i stayed in hospital for 3 nights on a drip and i was petrified! So in conclusion........GET YOUR EARS CHECKED....
joanna - 10-Aug-12 @ 8:59 PM
my doctor said i had a viral infection and my ears looked blocked my ears seamed fine to me she gave me some olive oil ear drops and my ears are blocked up i cannot get in my doctors now what else can i do please help
doody - 1-Jun-12 @ 11:29 AM
I am a human right activist i was hitting very had on my left ear by officers of the Nigerian police some time ago, it was so had that I bled, but I took medications as advice by a medical physician, this was two years ago but since then if I go to the swimming pools to swim and water gets into my ears the problem of hearing faintly with pains and pus coming out of my left ear continues. Please advise me
fubby - 27-Dec-11 @ 4:39 AM
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