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Reviewed by

Dr. Alok Banka

Consultant - Ear, Nose and Throat

Manipal Hospitals, Whitefield

From Pain To Prevention: Decoding Ear Infections

Reviewed by:

Dr. Alok Banka

Posted On: Jan 10, 2024

blogs read 6 Min Read

Decoding Ear Infections

Ear infections are inflammations brought on by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. These infections mostly affect the middle ear. The common symptoms include fever, earache, hearing loss, and fluid leakage. Early detection and action are essential to prevent complications. Antibiotics, analgesics, or surgery may be used as therapies.


Types of Ear Infections

Appropriate treatment and the best possible recovery depend on knowing the different types of ear infections, their respective origins, symptoms, and therapies. For individualized therapy, it is advised to consult a medical expert.

Swimmer's Ear or Otitis Externa

  • Causes: It results from prolonged contact with moisture. There’s growth of fungus or bacteria in the ear canal. Additional factors may include scratches or harm to the skin lining the ear canal.

  • Symptoms: Ear pain, itching, redness, and swelling of the ear canal. Hearing loss and discharge may also occur.

  • Treatment: In severe cases, oral treatment may be used in addition to ear drops containing antibiotics or antifungal agents and keeping the ear dry. Avoid more moisture exposure for faster healing.

Acute Mediatitis (AOM)

  • Causes: Bacterial infection, which frequently results from respiratory illnesses such as flu or cold. Bacterial growth can occur when the Eustachian tube gets clogged. This tube works as the fluid drainage system of our middle ear.

  • Symptoms: Abrupt ear discomfort, fever, agitation, and hearing loss. There may be fluid behind the eardrum, and the eardrum may appear red and irritated.

  • Treatment: Antibiotics are frequently administered. You may also be advised to use painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage discomfort. In case of recurring infections, surgery to implant ear tubes may be considered.

COME or Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion

  • Causes: Fluid builds up in the middle ear without an active infection. Allergies, disorders including Eustachian tube malfunction, or untreated acute infections may bring it on.

  • Symptoms: A feeling of fullness in the ears, sporadic pressure or pain, and slight hearing loss. COME may show symptoms that are less severe than those of acute infections.

  • Treatment: There are many choices for treating this congestion, such as utilizing medicine to relieve symptoms or treating underlying causes like allergies. There is another option that helps with drainage. Doctors may sometimes advise invasive treatments like the placement of ear tubes.

Common Symptoms of Ear Infections

Common ear infection symptoms include:

  • Pain and discomfort

It can range from a subtle aching to severe, stabbing feelings. Increased pressure and inflammation of the ear are the main causes of this discomfort.

  • Hearing loss

It especially affects those with damage to the middle ear. A fluid accumulation or an infection can obstruct the sound wave's path. It can result in transient or occasionally permanent hearing loss.

  • Ear drainage or the occurrence of ear discharge

This liquid can be yellow, transparent, or even have traces of blood in it.

  • Balance issues

If ear infections affect the vestibular system of the inner ear, it can impair balance. Dizziness, vertigo, or an unsteady sensation can occur subsequently. 

Consult our ENT hospital in Bangalore if you need ear infection treatment.

How Can We Diagnose Ear Infections?

The key diagnostic techniques for ear infections include a thorough evaluation of the patient’s medical history, a physical examination, an inspection of the ears, and audiological testing. 

A comprehensive physical examination aids in spotting outward indications of illness, and an otoscope provides up-close views of the eardrum and canal. Audiological testing assesses the middle ear infection's effect on hearing. This combination aids in the precise diagnosis and management of ear infections by medical professionals.

When to Seek Medical Attention?

Untreated ear infections can cause hearing loss. It may spread to nearby structures and damage the ear canal or eardrum. Seek proper medical attention if severe ear pain, fever, sudden hearing loss, or pus drainage persist despite home remedies.

Ear infections must be promptly diagnosed and treated to avoid consequences and maintain ear health. Early symptom management guarantees the best possible outcome and lowers the chance of long-term effects.

Consult an ENT specialist in Whitefield for proper diagnosis and the right ear infection treatment.

Treatment Options for Ear Infections

Ear infections require a comprehensive treatment plan, including antibiotics, pain management, and surgical interventions. The chosen option usually depends on the infection's severity and requires expert guidance for personalized care. Here is an overview of the general treatment methods.

Antibiotics and Medications


  • Topical and Oral Antibiotics

Antibiotics target localized infections like swimmer's ear and middle ear infections like acute otitis media.

  • Pain Relievers

Ear infection treatment necessitates effective pain management. These medications may include over-the-counter painkillers, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which alleviate discomfort. Prescription pain medications may be considered for severe cases.

Ear Drops and Topical Treatments


Usually, ear drops containing antibiotics or antifungal agents are used to treat ear infections, particularly in cases of otitis externa. These drops are administered directly into the ear canal to target the infection at its source. In addition, corticosteroid drops may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

Surgical Interventions


  • Myringotomy

In some cases of recurrent ear infections or persistent fluid in the middle ear, a myringotomy may be performed. This involves making a small incision in the eardrum to drain fluid and relieve pressure. Ear tubes may be inserted to facilitate ongoing drainage.

  • Tympanoplasty

This surgical procedure repairs a perforated or damaged eardrum. It is often necessary for recurrent infections or if the eardrum does not heal on its own.

Preventive Measures for Ear Infections

There are a few precautions that you may consider to prevent ear infections. 

  • Apply warm compresses to your ears to help reduce pain and promote drainage. The gentle heat helps soothe inflammation and may ease discomfort associated with ear infections. 

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage ear pain. Follow proper dosage guidelines and consult an ENT specialist, especially when considering these options for children.

  • Practicing good ear hygiene is essential for preventing infections. Avoid inserting objects into the ear canal, as this can damage the delicate structures and push wax deeper. Use soft clothes to clean the outer ear. If there is excessive earwax, consult a doctor for safe removal.

  • Keeping vaccinations up-to-date, especially for conditions like influenza and pneumonia, can contribute to overall health. It also reduces respiratory infection risks that may lead to ear infections. Practising good respiratory hygiene, such as covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, helps prevent the spread of infectious agents.


Fungus, viruses, or bacteria can cause ear infections. Their development is aided by elements including allergies, respiratory illnesses, and wetness exposure (like swimmer's ear).

Maintain proper ear hygiene, refrain from sticking items in your ears, and take timely action to treat allergies to lower your chance of developing ear infections. Furthermore, vaccines and prompt treatment of respiratory infections can be preventive strategies.

If you have severe ear discomfort, persistent symptoms, pus drainage, sudden hearing loss, or if home cures don't improve your symptoms, it's best to consult a top ENT specialist in Whitefield. 

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