Ear Infections (Otitis Media)
Ear infections are very common. It is estimated that by the time we reach first grade, 90 percent of us have had at least one ear infection. Most individuals never experience a chronic problem. This section is devoted to why people develop problems that become chronic and some of the things that can be done to alleviate the problem.
The ear is divided into three parts. The middle ear is a space between the ear drum and the inner ear. It is normally filled with air and the air for the middle ear comes through the eustachian tube. If the eustachian tube fails to equalize the pressure, fluid may build up in this space. The eustachian tube connects the back of the nose to the middle ear space. Bacteria may invade the space and cause the fluid to become infected. Individuals who have this process will develop otitis media. Otitis media is a classic ear infection. It is associated with hearing loss, pain, and a fever.
Most ear infections can be treated by a primary care physician. There are many antibiotics that are available for the treatment of this process. There are three common bacteria that cause most infections. This is why it is sometime necessary to use one antibiotic and then to switch to a second antibiotic. There are no studies that show that switching more than twice is likely to succeed in clearing up ear infections.