Otitis (Ear infection): First Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Medications

Otitis is an inflammation of the ear. The disease can be chronic or acute, purulent or catarrhal. The severity of the pathological process depends entirely on the virulence of microorganisms. The state of the immune system also plays a great role.

According to statistics, 30% of all ENT diseases are an acute form of otitis media. Children of preschool age get sick much more often than adults. By the age of three, 80% of children have suffered from otitis media.

Specialists at Merce Family Healthcare have prepared this article on otitis where you will find detailed information about the disease.


Symptoms of Otitis

Otitis can be caused by the following bacteria:

  • Pneumococcus
  • Streptococcus
  • Staphylococcus
  • Haemophilus influenza and other microorganisms

Any ear inflammation is extremely dangerous and thus you need to see a doctor as soon as you notice you have any symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms of otitis include:

  • Severe pain in the ear
  • Fever
  • Purulent discharge from the ear canal

After the appearance of pus, the patient’s condition usually improves, the fever goes down, and the pain becomes less pronounced or completely disappears.

Pus is released from the breach through the tympanic membrane. Such an outcome of the disease is considered positive. With proper treatment, the opening in the tympanic membrane slowly heals without affecting the hearing.

With the unfavorable development of the disease, pus cannot find a way out. This is fraught with the fact that the infection can begin to spread inside the skull. Such otitis can turn into meningitis, as well as into the abscess of the brain.

Types of Otitis

Depending on the localization of inflammation, otitis can be:

  • Externa
  • Media
  • Interna or labyrinthitis

Swimmers often suffer from otitis externa. The inflammation begins because of a mechanical trauma to the auricle or an external auditory canal. Damage to the protective cover leads to the ingression and multiplication of pathogenic microorganisms. Then a furuncle is formed at this place.

If you don’t immediately get the appropriate treatment, otitis externa turns into a severe form and spreads to the parotid cartilages and bones. With otitis externa, patients usually experience throbbing pain, puffiness of the ear, and a moderate increase in temperature.

With otitis media, the inflammatory process extends to the airway cavities of the middle ear located immediately behind the eardrum – the tympanum, auditory tube, and mastoid process. The form of otitis media often turns from the catarrhal into purulent.

Acute catarrhal otitis media happens as a complication of acute respiratory disease or acute respiratory viral infection, after penetration of the pathogen of infection into the tympanum. At the initial stage, the level of hearing may decrease and tinnitus may appear, while the temperature of the body remains normal or slightly goes up.

If these symptoms are ignored, then catarrhal otitis is accompanied with high fever and pain in the ear, extending to the eye, neck, throat, or teeth. Such an otitis can be treated only having got rid of an infection, for what it is necessary to contact the doctor urgently.

Acute purulent otitis media is a neglected catarrhal form. The disease is manifested by the breakthrough of the tympanic membrane and the outflow of pus, followed by a decrease in body temperature. Treatment, in addition to fighting infection, should include permanent removal of pus from the ear, which can only be done by ENT doctor.

In addition, pus cannot always go out by itself. If the eardrum is very strong, surgery is required to puncture the tympanic membrane. This procedure is called paracentesis and is performed using a local anesthetic drug.

After the pus is removed, the eardrum is cicatrized, and the quality of the hearing is not further reduced.

If acute otitis media is not treated, the pus spreads inside the skull. As a result, internal otitis develops. It affects the vestibular apparatus, which causes an abscess of the brain and leads, at least, to a partial or total loss of hearing. Therefore, when the first signs of otitis appear, you should not resort to any self-treatment. See a doctor as soon as possible.

Causes of Otitis Media

Each ENT disease is accompanied by increased mucus production. As its amount increases, mucus enters the Eustachian tube, disrupting the ventilation of the tympanum. The cells of the tympanic cavity release an inflammatory fluid. In addition to clogging the lumen of the Eustachian tube, pathogenic microorganisms, which normally form part of the local microflora, also contribute to the aggravation of inflammation.

The causes of otitis are as follows:

  • Penetration of infection from other ENT organs as a complication of concomitant infectious-viral disease
  • Various diseases of the nose, its sinuses, and nasopharynx
  • Injuries of the auricle
  • Overcooling and weakened immunity

Diagnosis of Otitis

A simple examination of the auricle and auditory canal with the help of a head mirror or an otoscope is sufficient to diagnose otitis.

How Is Otitis Externa Diagnosed?

With otitis externa, the doctor pays attention to the skin in the area of the auricle, the size of the auditory canal, and discharge from it. If the auditory gleam is very narrowed, especially if the tympanic membrane is not visible, the skin turns red, and there is liquid discharge inside the ear, it allows the doctor to diagnose otitis externa.

How Is Otitis Media Diagnosed?

Acute otitis media is also diagnosed during an external examination. The doctor is guided by some characteristic signs of this disease – a reddened eardrum, a restriction of its mobility, and the presence of perforation

Otitis Interna: Diagnosis with Audiometry

The testing of hearing on a special apparatus (audiometry), as well as measurement of pressure inside the ear with the tympanometry, is used to clarify the diagnosis of chronic otitis.

If the acuity of hearing with otitis media sharply decreases and attacks of dizziness begin, a patient may suffer from otitis interna (inflammation of the ear labyrinth). In this case, doctors use audiometry.

X-Ray and Computed Tomography

X-ray is used to check if there are any complications – severe intracranial infections or mastoiditis. These are quite rare cases, but if there are suspicions of these dangerous complications, CT of the brain and temporal bones of the skull is also needed.

How to Treat Otitis

The method of treatment is determined by the otolaryngologist after having established the type and severity of otitis.

In any case, drug therapy primarily aims to destroy the bacteria that contribute to the development of otitis, usually with the help of antibiotics like Amoxicillin or Augmentin. The otolaryngologist selects drugs that not only eliminate bacterial damage to the body but also penetrate the eardrum to reach the focus of the disease.

As a local treatment, special ear drops-antiseptics such as Ciprodex or Otiprio are used. These ear drops effectively combat infections and often include anesthetics like Lidocaine, which help significantly reduce and eliminate pain.

Otolaryngologists often prescribe vasoconstrictive nasal drops like Afrin or Otrivin, which help remove the swelling of the mucous membrane of the Eustachian tube, thereby reducing the load on the eardrum. In addition to nasal drops, antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec may be prescribed to reduce mucosal edema.

If patients have a fever, which is often caused by otitis, antipyretic drugs like Tylenol or Ibuprofen are prescribed. These medications are available through online drug services such as CeruleanRx, a Canadian pharmacy that offers affordable medications internationally.

With a timely visit to the otolaryngologist and the exact observance of all prescriptions, otitis passes quickly enough without leaving any consequences.

How to Treat Otitis with Potentially Natural Methods

In addition to drug therapy, there are many ways of alternative treatment of otitis. Experts from Merce Family Healthcare emphasize that such methods are acceptable for use but are mostly of an auxiliary nature. However, remember that you can use natural methods only after consulting a doctor and in no case resort to self-treatment to avoid complications and irreversible consequences.

Depending on the form and severity of the disease, the following natural methods of treatment can be used:

  • If you suffer from a hearing loss after otitis, it is recommended to drink tea from rose petals daily for two weeks, which will help restore hearing in a short time.
  • To cure otitis externa, grind the root of elecampane and mix it with a small amount of lamb fat. You can lubricate the auricle with this earwax to complete recovery.
  • You can reduce severe pain in the ears using glycerin with alcohol. It is necessary to combine the two ingredients in equal proportions. Moisten the tampon in this mixture and lay it in the ear.
  • You can treat ear inflammation by warming up your ear. Heat some salt in a clean dry frying pan and fill a linen bag with it. Warm up your ear for 30 minutes.

Prevention of Otitis

The main goal of preventing otitis in adults is to prevent the Eustachian tube from being blocked by thick mucus. As a rule, acute rhinitis is accompanied by liquid secretions but during treatment mucus often becomes thicker, stagnating in the nasopharynx.

In order to prevent the development of otitis caused by congestive purulent processes, it is necessary to treat the corresponding ENT diseases in a timely manner.

Things to do to prevent otitis as a result of ENT diseases:

  • Use vasoconstrictive nasal drops to reduce edema of the mucosa
  • Drink more water
  • Take antipyretic drugs if you have high fever, not allowing its retention
  • Maintain humidity in the room
  • Be careful when blowing the nose – do not overdo it since it causes blocking of auditory tubes and stagnation of infected mucus

Specialists at Merce Family HealthCare ensure that the most important prevention measure is a timely visit to the doctor. He or she will examine the tympanic membrane and determine the type of otitis. You may be required to do a blood or other test, which will make it easier for the doctor to choose the best possible treatment that will save the patient from terrible complications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *