Ear infections are one of the most prevalent ENT disorders. They occur when germs become trapped inside the middle ear. The eustachian tube, a tiny tube that originates in the ear and drains in to the back of the throat, usually keeps unwanted germs out. If this tube is too small or becomes clogged by fluid and mucus, bacteria or other microbes may be able to enter the ear and cause an infection.
There are many symptoms of an ear infection, and they vary between individuals. Here are some general indications that you may have an ear infection.
- recent history of an upper respiratory infection
- pain and pressure
- loss of balance
- difficulty hearing
- nausea and vomiting
- fluid discharge from the ear (this indicates perforation of the tympanic membrane)
If you have a small child who cannot tell you that they are sick, you may watch for additional signs such as:
- failure to respond to their own name; failure to startle at loud noises
- fussiness that increases at night
- pulling or tugging at the ear
- decreased appetite
National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Ear infections: Facts for Parents About Otitis Media. Accessed: November 24, 2008.