Ear infections can be a painful problem for children and adults alike. While some cases of ear infections can be treated at home, there are some symptoms that can indicate it’s time to see an ENT specialist before the infection turns into a severe problem. At Houston Physicians’ Hospital, we understand the importance of ENT health, so we’ve laid out some ear infection symptoms that mean it’s time to see an ear doctor:
- Sudden Onset of High Fever
Fever is often a common symptom associated with ear infections but be sure to keep an eye on your body temperature. Fever is the body’s response to an infection, but a sudden, high fever caused by your ear infection can indicate a more serious problem that needs to be addressed by a medical professional. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, adults with fevers higher than 103 degrees that last for over 48 hours should seek medical attention (1).
- Swelling Under or Behind the Ear
Swelling behind or under the ear can occur in some cases of ear infections. While this swelling isn’t usually dangerous, it is still important to see an ear doctor when it occurs. It could indicate that the mastoid bone, located behind the ear, has become infected. According to the National Health Service, this condition, called mastoiditis, often occurs following an ear infection (2). If diagnosed and treated early, mastoiditis often resolves quickly with no complications. However, if left untreated, this condition can cause serious problems. As swelling is a key symptom of mastoiditis, it’s important to see an ENT specialist for ear swelling to rule out the possibility of this condition.
- Blood Coming from the Ear
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, a middle ear infection can sometimes result in a rupture of the eardrum, called an eardrum perforation (3). When this happens, built up fluid is able to drain from the ear. If you notice bloody drainage coming from your ear, you’ll need to see an ear doctor for a professional diagnosis. Some eardrum perforations may require surgery to fully heal. Even if surgery is not required, your ENT specialist can treat the perforation and help protect it from further damage caused by water or trauma.
- Inability to Move Normally
According to the National Institutes of Health, an ear infection can cause balance problems, as the vestibular system that helps control balance is affected (4). When your ear infection affects your ability to balance, the condition is called labyrinthitis. While labyrinthitis may slightly affect your sense of balance, it should not impair your overall ability to move normally. If your ear infection is accompanied by difficulty with everyday movement, you may need to see an ENT specialist. In severe cases of labyrinthitis, vestibular rehabilitation therapy is needed to help regain normal function. Your specialist will be able to determine which method of treatment is needed for your situation.
Ear infections usually resolve on their own with only mild symptoms. However, if you notice any of the above listed symptoms, it’s best to see your ENT specialist to rule out any severe problems. For the leading ENT treatments in the Clear Lake area give Houston Physicians’ Hospital a call at (281) 557-5620 or learn more at www.houstonphysicianshospital.com.