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What’s Causing Your Recurring Ear Infections?

What’s Causing Your Recurring Ear Infections?

Your ears are essential for hearing and balance and consist of three main parts: : the outer, middle, and inner. The outer ear collects sound waves and sends them through the middle ear and into the inner ear. Next, the signals are sent through the auditory nerve to the brain to interpret the sound. Your ears are also part of your vestibular system, which controls your spatial orientation and equilibrium.

Ear infections can create problems with hearing and balance, and chronic ear infections can cause you to deal with the illness's effects repeatedly. To understand what’s causing your repeated ear infections, let’s examine their common causes, how they become chronic, and and the treatment options.

Residents of the Lake Oswego, Oregon, area looking for relief from ear infections can find help with the team of specialists at Lake Grove ENT.

Common causes of ear infections

Ear infections commonly occur in the middle ear (the space behind your eardrum) and are known as acute otitis media. While they are a common reason for young children to get medical care, anyone can get an ear infection, as bacteria and viruses can cause them; the risk of getting them increases with colds, allergies, family history, and chronic illnesses. For reasons not entirely understood, Native American and Hispanic children are at higher risk of ear infections than other ethnicities.

The three types of infection that can affect your ears are:

Why they become chronic

This infection becomes chronic after three months, though it will disappear on its own in many cases. These infections can become chronic due to long-lasting infections. Upper respiratory tract infections, Down syndrome, a cleft palate, and a family history of ear infections can also increase the risk of recurring infections. This can result in problems with speaking or reading, poor balance, limited attention, delayed responses, and an inability to work independently. 

A 2016 guideline indicates that up to 40% of children experience multiple infections and that up to 10% have infections that last for over a year.

Treatment options

In some cases the infections will resolve on their own, but treatment options include antibiotics, over-the-counter medications (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, acetaminophen), and antifungal treatments. Devices that can help with these infections include an ear trap that removes fluid from behind the ear and tests it to identify the infection and an aural toilet, also known as dry mopping, which flushes and cleans the ear.

An adenoidectomy can also be performed, which is a procedure that removes adenoids (the glands at the back of your nose that helps you fight infections). Research shows this treatment has been helpful to young children.

Ear infections that happen repeatedly can be frustrating, but we can help. Make an appointment with the expert team at Lake Oswego ENT today to treat your ear infection.

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