Earaches & Ear Infections
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What are Earaches and Ear Infections?
Ear pain and earaches can have many different causes, like trauma to the ear from a blow to the head or pressure changes from air travel. It can also be caused by problems around the ear, such as clenching or grinding the teeth.
Earaches are often caused by ear infections. Ear infections occur when a virus or bacteria infects the middle ear space, or the space behind the eardrum. Ear infections are more common in children than adults.
Symptoms of ear infections may include:
- Ear pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble hearing
- Changes in balance
- Fever of 100°F or higher
- Ear drainage
- Loss of appetite
There are two common types of ear infections, which have very different causes and treatments.
- Swimmer’s ear is an infection in the ear canal, outside of the eardrum. Typically, bacteria collect when water enters and pools in the ear canal.
- A middle ear infection, on the other hand, is caused by bacteria from the back of the nose and mouth that collects in the middle ear, underneath the eardrum.
UR Medicine's Treatments for Earaches & Ear Infections
You can seek care for ear pain from your primary care provider or local urgent care. They may advise pain medication, anesthetic drops, or antibiotic treatment. Most ear infections clear up with medication, but in some cases, you may be referred to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist for further treatment.
Advanced treatment for ear infections may include:
- Ear tube replacement, which involves inserting a small tube (tympanostomy tube) in the eardrum to help ventilate the middle ear space and prevent fluid build-up.
- Myringotomy, an operation during which a small incision is created in the eardrum to allow fluid to drain and relieve pain in the ear. The incision heals within a few days with practically no scarring or injury to the eardrum.
- Ventilation tubes (often referred to as just "tubes") can be placed into the incision during a myringotomy to improve hearing and prevent fluid build-up in the eardrum.
What Sets Us Apart?
UR Medicine offers quick and convenient care options for ear pain and earaches, including same-day and next-day urgent care, and telehealth or video appointments.
Our ENT physicians are trained in non-surgical and surgical treatment of diseases of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck. Our specialists perform hundreds of procedures and surgeries every year, so your care is always in the hands of well-practiced experts.
In fact, as part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, our physicians are exposed to more complex conditions and unusual complications than most physicians in the upstate New York region. Many of our physicians are also involved in research to find new treatments for ENT-related condtions. All of our doctors are board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.
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