The 3 main parts of the human ear can all be impacted by ear infections. The inner ear's job is the translate vibrations into signals that are they relayed to the brain, and it is also responsible for helping the body maintain its sense of balance. The inner ear can become infected for many reasons. The middle part of the ear is just beneath the eardrum. It can become infected when a virus or bacteria causes eardrum inflammation. Middle ear infections are the most frequently occurring type of ear infection. The outer ear gathers sounds to relay them to the middle and inner ear, and it can also become infected.
In middle ear infections, the symptoms include pain in the ear, low-grade fever, ear discharge, inability to sleep, balance problems, nausea, and hearing problems. Outer ear infections generally cause the same type of symptoms that middle ear infections cause, but they also cause inflamed outer ears that are often warm to the touch. Inner ear infections can cause dizziness, tinnitus, hearing issues, vertigo, balance issues, nausea, and vomiting.
The treatment for an ear infection depends on the cause of the infection. In most cases, ear infections result from virus or bacteria. Antibiotics can help with a bacterial ear infection but don't have any impact on a viral ear infection. For the pain associated with ear infections, the doctor may recommend a pain reliever such as acetaminophen. In most cases, an ear infection will resolve on its own. For serious cases, ear lavage (ear cleaning performed by the doctor) may be recommended. As with any infection, rest and plenty of fluids can help a patient get back on the road to wellness quickly.