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Ear Infections

An ear infection can cause intense ear ache and other symptoms, and are very common in children. Minor ear infections will clear up on their own, but if the pain hasn’t subsided in a couple of days you should see a GP. If you think you or your child has an ear infection and would like to speak to a medical professional, sign up to babylon today to speak to a doctor 24/7.

Find out more about the different types of ear infections and treatment below.

Symptoms of ear infections

Usually one ear will be affected by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Intense pain inside the ear
  • Itchiness in the ear canal
  • Liquid discharge running out of the ear
  • Temporary hearing loss

Children often suffer from ear ache which can be caused by a minor infection, which usually passes without treatment in a couple of days. However if the symptoms don’t settle within a couple of days, see a doctor.

Causes of ear infections

There are two different types of ear infection and they have different causes.

Inner ear infection (otitis media)

This is usually caused by viruses such as cold and flu, and are more prominent in children and babies. The build-up of mucus in the middle ear can cause a tube to become blocked and swollen, which means mucus can’t drain away properly.

Outer ear infection (otitis externa)

This type of infection is entirely different and mainly affects adults over the age of 45. The condition causes inflammation and swelling of the external ear canal and is caused by a bacterial infection or something irritating the ear such as water or eczema. This type of infection is known as ‘swimmer’s ear’ because water can irritate the ear or make it easier for bacteria to grow.

Treating ear infections

Sometimes ear infections require no treatment and go away on their own, but it’s best to discuss your symptoms with a doctor. If the GP thinks you need medication they may recommend the following:

Inner ear infection (otitis media) – antibiotics aren’t recommended but may be prescribed if the infection is persistent or if your child is under two.

Outer ear infection (otitis externa) – ear drops or antibiotics.

If you’re worried about your symptoms or child’s symptoms then speak to a doctor today.