What Causes Middle Ear Infections?


Have you ever woken up and felt like someone jammed a cotton swab in your ear and just left it there? If so, you’ve probably had a middle ear infection. What exactly is this, though? What could have caused it?

Middle ear infections impact over 3 million people in the U.S. each year. It is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the air-filled space behind the eardrum. Middle ear infections, or acute otitis media, are more likely to occur in children than adults. That sharp pain you felt when you first woke up is because of inflammation and buildup of fluids in the middle ear. So, now that we know what a middle ear infection is, let’s talk about how you might have gotten it.

Have you ever noticed that you get an ear infection nearly every time you’re sick? That’s because they are often the result of another illness, like the flu, a cold, or allergies, that cause congestion and swelling of the nasal passages. In our skulls, the sinus cavities are connected to the ears and throat. That means, if the nasal passages become inflamed and cause congestion, you will most likely feel it in your ears. Another reason for infection is that the open connections between the ear, nose, and throat make the exchange of fluids between them easier.

The reason middle ear infections occur more commonly in children has to do with the two organs that are most affected by being sick. The eustachian tubes are two tubes that connect the middle ear to the back of the throat and are usually blocked when sick. In children, these tubes are more narrow, which makes it harder for fluids to drain before eventually getting clogged. The adenoids are two small pads of tissue in the back of the nose that are connected to the immune system. Adenoids are close to the eustachian tubes and can even block them when inflamed. Children have larger and more active adenoids, which is why they are more likely to be affected and cause middle ear infections.

We know what ear infections are and how we get them, but how are they treated? One solution is to tough it out and hope it solves itself. Unfortunately in more serious cases, this could lead to long-term hearing problems. Another would be to visit our other facilities, Westwood ENT, to see how they can help. But if all else fail, come in to CT Sinus Center and treat the underlying issue of ear infections – your allergies. If you suffer from frequent sinus infections or allergies, you could also be suffering from middle ear infections. We offer many solutions for the permanent treatment and relief of sinus issues.



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