The ear, nose, and throat are interconnected and they work hand in hand with each other. An infection in one of these three organs may affect the health of the others. This, therefore, means that an ear infection may be due to bacterial attack in the throat or the nose. Usually, people with a compromised immune system are more at risk of ear infections because they are more susceptible to diseases. This article focuses on the most common causes of ear infections.
- Cold and Flu
When you have a cold, flu or allergy, usually it is because of a virus or bacteria. In response, the airways produce overly more mucus that in turn causes the blockage of the nasal cavity, as well as the airways. Due to the blockage of the nasal cavity, which is connected to the ear, infectious fluid is trapped in the inner ear, and this causes infection due to the same bacteria. In the same process, the buildup of fluid causes increased pressure within the ear, causing you to experience a lot of pain.
- Swollen Eustachian Tubes
The Eustachian tubes are narrow canals, running from the middle to the high ends of the ear. The tubes are responsible for the drainage of secretions out of the ear, regulation of the air quality in the ear, as well as control of pressure within the air. Due to injuries or infections, the Eustachian tubes may become swollen. When this happens, the ear is not able to secret fluids out of the ear. As a result, the buildup of fluids causes infection in the inner ear, hence pains due to increased pressure. In adults, the Eustachian tubes are a little inclined at an angle to allow better flow of secretions, hence less susceptible to ear infections. In children, the tubes are more horizontal, something that causes poor secretion of fluids. This places kids at an increased risk of ear infections.
- Poor Air Quality
Air pollution through smoke and pollen may cause blockage of the nasal cavity, while dust may bring bacteria and viruses. At the same time, mold and mildew can grow, and this affects your breathing system. Since the nasal cavity is connected to the ear, this blockage impacts the smooth flow of secretions from the inner ear. The result of this is the buildup of fluids and the possibility of an infection.
- Swollen Adenoids
At the back of the nose, are two pads that are responsible for the activation of the immune system. Since the nose is connected to the ear, swelling of the adenoids, which are close to the Eustachian tubes, cause infection of the ear. This is because as the adenoids swell, secretion of fluids from the ear is impacted. At the same time, pressure builds up in the air and this leads to a very sharp earache. Children have larger adenoids than adults, something that makes them more likely to get ear infections because of the swelling of these glands.
Children below 2 years are more at the risk of an ear infection because their immune systems are still developing. Children playgroups also play a role in ear infections amongst children because of infecting each other with cold and flu. Breast milk is known to contain antibodies that help babies fight diseases and infections. This, therefore, means that babies who are fed through the bottle are more at the risk of ear infections than their breastfed counterparts are. With this in mind, experts advise that you should breastfeed your child as much as possible. Furthermore, children have horizontal Eustachian tubes, which cause less secretion of fluids out of the ear.
Due to the buildup of pressure in the middle ear, the first sign and symptom of ear infection is a sharp pain. It should be treated with the use of over the counter, OTC drugs such as painkillers. In babies, earaches can be treated with drugs such as paracetamol but must be administered with the directive of a doctor. Ear infections in children are treated with the use of eardrops. Most eardrops contain saline water that helps in fighting bacteria and germs in the inner ear. However, because children are delicate, you should always consult with a pediatrician before administering eardrops. In adults, ear infections are treated with antibiotics or eardrops. Usually, the infections last until about a week but should the symptoms persist, seek medical intervention immediately. However, since you now understand the causes of ear infections, you are now better placed to prevent this problem in the first place.