Having an ear infection can be stressful, as the pain is intense and often happens without warning. Most common ear infections are harmless, but there are some ear infections that can affect your sense of balance and even cause hearing loss.
An ear infection can be caused by either bacteria or viruses, and can occur in the outer ear (the visible ear and ear canal), middle ear (behind the ear drum), or the inner ear where the balance and hearing organs are located. Ear infections can also be caused by nasal congestion from common colds or flu.
Ear discomfort can sometimes be caused by a buildup of ear wax, but if you’re concerned about any ear pain or discomfort it is good practice to get your ears checked.
The most common types of ear infections are:
Ear infections can come on suddenly, and are usually (but not always) accompanied by a change in hearing and some discomfort in the affected ear. Other signs could be:
You cannot always prevent ear infections, but there are a few things which may be helpful, particularly if you have had ear infections in the past:
Following the advice of your GP, you can do the following to help relieve the discomfort associated with an ear infection:
Learn more on ear infections and related conditions.