What is myringitis?

Myringitis is a type of ear infection that affects the eardrum. It leads to the formation of fluid-filled blisters that can cause pain. Unlike some other types of ear infections, myringitis does not usually lead to a build up of fluid behind the eardrum.

Signs and symptoms of myringitis

Some people with myringitis may experience temporary hearing loss, with most finding that their usual hearing range is restored after treatment. If myringitis goes untreated, more permanent hearing loss may occur.

Other symptoms of myringitis may include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • A feeling of fullness within the ears
  • Temporary hearing loss
  • Blisters on the eardrum
  • Fluid flowing from the ear (if the blisters on the eardrum burst)

Causes of myringitis

Myringitis is typically caused by either a virus or bacteria. More often than not, the viruses and types of bacteria that lead to myringitis are also responsible for colds, the flu and strep throat, making people with those illnesses more susceptible to contracting the infection. Myringitis is also more common in people with middle ear infections as they are typically caused by the same types of bacteria and viruses.

Myringitis treatment

Although some cases resolve themselves in just a few days, more severe cases may require medical attention. Like many ear conditions, myringitis is typically diagnosed by a healthcare practitioner using an otoscope.

As it can be difficult to determine whether myringitis has been caused by a virus or bacteria, most cases are treated with antibiotics and over-the-counter painkillers. If your ear pain is not reduced by over-the-counter painkillers or continues for a prolonged period of time, your doctor may choose to either prescribe stronger painkillers or drain the blisters on your eardrum. If your doctor chooses to drain the blisters, they will be burst using a specialised myringotomy knife. Although bursting the blisters isn’t a cure for myringitis, it may provide some relief to those with the condition.

Preventing myringitis

As myringitis is caused by the same bacteria and viruses that cause colds, the flu and other types of infections, the best way to prevent developing myringitis is to practice good hygiene, especially at the height of cold and flu season.

Be sure to wash your hands regularly and keep the high-touch surfaces in your home clean. Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes to help prevent the spread of any bacteria and viruses, while also staying away from people suffering from colds, flus and other contagious conditions.

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