You may have heard that ear infections are contagious, but is this true?
Ear infections transpire when the middle ear becomes inflamed. That can happen for several reasons, but most often, it is due to a viral infection. When the middle ear becomes inflamed, it can lead to a buildup of fluid and pressure. It can cause pain, hearing loss, and other symptoms.
So, are ear infections contagious? In most cases, the answer is no. Viruses usually cause ear infections, and these viruses don’t easily spread from person to person. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if you have an ear infection caused by bacteria, this bacteria can spread to others. That is why it’s essential to see a doctor if you think you have an ear infection.
Symptoms of an Ear Infection
The most common symptom of an ear infection is a pain in the ear. Other symptoms can include:
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty hearing
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Fullness or pressure in the ear
If you or your child has any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor. Ear infections can sometimes resolve independently, but they can also lead to severe complications if left untreated.
Who Are Prone to Having Ear Infection
Ear infections are most common in children but can occur at any age. Adults prone to ear infections usually have had them as children. Other risk factors include:
- Anatomy. This includes small or narrow Eustachian tubes (the tubes that connect the middle ear to the back of the throat)
- Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Congenital heart defects
- Cleft palates
- Down syndrome
If you or your child has any risk factors, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce the risk of ear infections.
How to Get Treated
The first step in treating an ear infection is to see a doctor. They will be able to prescribe antibiotics if the infection is bacterial. If the infection is viral, however, antibiotics won’t help.
You can do a few things at home to ease the pain of an ear infection. Place a warm, wet cloth on the affected ear for 20 minutes several times daily. That will help to reduce pain and inflammation. You can also take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
If you have an ear infection, you must see a doctor as soon as possible.
It is essential to be aware of an ear infection’s symptoms and see a doctor if you think you or your child may have one. Ear infections can be excruciating and can cause serious complications if they are not treated properly. In some cases, ear infections can resolve on their own without medication. However, if the infection does not go away or worsens, it is crucial to see a doctor.
Make sure also to always have your ears checked. Get your free hearing test in Lexington at Hear More Associates. If you are having trouble hearing or think you might have hearing loss, come to us for a free hearing test. We are the most trusted hearing care specialist in the Lexington area and can help you find the right solution for your hearing needs.