Ear Infection – Treatment, Types, Cause, Symptoms, Risk & Precautions

A human ear is made up of three sections – the inner ear, the middle ear and the outer ear. It performs one of the most important sensory functions in our body – that of hearing. It is made up of highly vulnerable little tissues and bones and therefore is usually dealt with extreme care and caution. In fact, beyond a point, it is advisable to always visit the doctor for any ear related issues – be it cleaning or an infection.

On the topic of infections, most ear infections are caused due to bacteria or viruses. Especially in the middle ear. The middle ear is the small vibrating bone in the air filled space behind the ear drums. An ear infection in this region of the ear is medically referred to otitis media. Infections in these areas are painful and frequently lead to build up of fluids. Children are often most susceptible to this.

Pain is usually the first indicator of infection in the ear. If not treated correctly (often with antibiotics) or swiftly, such infections can lead to permanent damage or even hearing loss.

A condition which is most prevalent in infants and kids, here is an endeavor to break it all down.



Acute otitis media is when an infection occurs. When a cold, allergy or upper respiratory infection occur, the bacteria or viruses lead to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the Eustachian tube. This causes an earache and swelling.


Also called otitis media with effusion, it occurs when one is recovering from an infection or when one is about to occur. Fluid remains in the ear for weeks or sometimes as long as months and if not removed, could lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.


To understand this condition better, it is important to understand what causes an infection in the ear i.e. the reasons why otitis media is caused:

1. Infections like cold, flu or an allergy which lead to congestion and swelling

2. Fluid accumulation in the middle ear due to swelling, inflammation and mucus in the Eustachian tubes leading to clogging of the narrow tubes.

3. Inflammation or enlargement of the adenoid tissues which are located at the beginning of the Eustachian tubes


The following are at a higher risk of suffering from otitis media than other:

1. Infants between 6 to 36 months, especially those not breastfed

2. Those frequently exposed to cigarette smoke are susceptible to a rapid onset of otitis media

3. Experiencing changes in altitude and climate also causes ear infections

4. Ear infections occur in cold climates more than in the tropics.

5. Ultimately, genes also play a significant role in increasing the risk of Otitis Media.


So how do you know that you or your kids are suffering from this infection and that it may, in fact, need not just care on your part but probably also a visit to the doctor?

It is important to be sensitive and mindful of the following symptoms:

1. It may be something as mundane as sleeplessness, headaches, neck pain, ear pain…

2. …to something as severe as fluid drainage from the ear, feeling of fullness in the ear and a lack of appetite

3. Extreme crying and irritability in infants with continuous touching of the ears

4. Routine symptoms could include fever, vomiting and diarrhea

5. Loss of balance is another symptom that scares people without realizing its connection to ear infection

6. The most extreme and severe symptom is, of course, a loss of hearing


Timely treating a case of otitis media is very important, especially in kids. There are ways to get it treated which include management of symptoms or medical intervention. Managing the symptoms includes:

1. Home care includes applying a warm and moist cloth over the infected ear to relieve the symptoms

2. Pain relief medicines available over-the-counter

3. Ear drops to relieve the pain, again available over-the-counter

4. Treatment for the flu, cold or allergy that led to the ear infection in the first place

If these don’t bring relief, it is possible that one might need medical intervention in the form of stronger medication or even surgery. Medical treatments only help with the swelling and congestion but won’t help with elevation of all symptoms.

The following could be the possible treatments:

1. A course of strong antibiotics may be the need of the hour under total supervision of the doctor

2. Tests like tympanometry which measures the movement of the eardrums or acoustic reflectometry which measures the fluid in the ear or tympanocentesis which pierces the eardrum to drain the fluids and to test the level of infection and lastly a set of other tests especially in kids to understand the degree of infection.

Surgical intervention may also be required:

1. Doctors may suggest surgery if one does not respond to medication or treatment or if the infection reoccurs.

2. The adenoid gland may have to be removed if they’re enlarged or infected, especially in kids

3. Inserting tiny tubes in the ears, especially in kids, maybe another surgery that they suggest.

Apollo Spectra offers all the above mentioned treatments for an ear infection


It is possible to prevent an ear infection by taking some simple precautions like:

1. Wash hands and in case of kids, toys frequently to reduce respiratory infections

2. Avoid cigarette smoke

3. Get preventive vaccines for flu, especially the seasonal kind

4. Breastfeed the infants instead of bottle feeding them

5. Avoid pacifiers for infants

Physicians at Apollo Spectra are experts in treating otitis media, which is just one of the names in an extensive list of conditions. Otolaryngologists at Apollo Spectra usually deal with the common ENT disorders in children whereas the experts deal with conditions such as otitis media. Our goal is to provide your children with the highest quality care. Our doctors are involved in research and use the latest technology to treat the patients, thus your loved ones are in safe hands. We aim to deliver accurate results and suggest to you the best treatment plan, according to your condition.


Who should one see in case their children have otitis media?

In case of children, pediatricians are the best set of doctors to go see for treatment.

Can otitis media lead to hearing loss?

When there is fluid in the ears, vibration takes time to travel through the ear and sounds take longer to reach the brain receptors which can cause temporary loss of hearing. Repeated infection in the ear can lead to permanent damage as well.

Why are kids more susceptible?

In case of kids, their immune systems aren’t fully developed and hence they are more prone to this infection.