Ear infections are a common childhood experience for most people. In fact, out of every three  colds a child gets, she is likely to have an accompanying ear infection as many as two of those times.

Broadly, the ear is broken up into three sections: outer, middle, and inner. The outer ear, pictured to the left, is the part we can easily see. The middle ear contains the ear drum and tiny bones that vibrate with sound and transmit the vibrations to the inner ear. The inner ear is made up of fluid-filled canals and nerves that send the sound vibrations in the form of nerve impulses to the brain for processing.

An infection of the outer ear is typically called swimmer’s ear. It is caused by the ears remaining wet long enough to breed bacteria. It could also be caused by a small scratch or sore in the outer ear that becomes infected. Typically, these are mild infections that cause itching and soreness in the outer ear. Treatment includes keeping out of the pool for a few days and keeping the area dry. Medicated ear drops can be used as well.

If fluid builds up in the middle ear, behind the ear drum, infection may develop. Pain inside or around the ear may be evidence of a middle ear infection, but the only way to tell if there is one is to visit your OrlandoENT doctor. The doctor will be able to tell if there is fluid and/or infection in the middle and prescribe medication to heal it.

If the ear drum bursts, you may see yellow, brown, or white fluid draining from the ear. The burst is caused by an excess of pressure building up behind the ear. Unless it happens very frequently, chances are hearing won’t be affected and the eardrum will repair itself in a few weeks. Definitely best to see your ENT professional, though, if you notice fluid draining from your ears or experience severe discomfort in your ears.

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