Virtually every part of the body is subject to infection, including the ears. When a bacteria or virus invades the middle ear – the part of the ear that sits just behind the ear drum – an infection develops. Infections of the middle ear can cause a mild to moderate pain, and the can also impact hearing.
An ear infection can be either acute or chronic. Though painful, acute infections only last for a short period of time. A chronic ear infection can also be painful, and worse, they occur over and over again, or they do not clear and can cause lasting damage to either the middle or the inner ear – the inner most part of the ear that contains the cochlea, the auditory and vestibular nerve, as well as the mechanism that allows for balance.
Ear infections develop when the Eustachian tube – the canal that links the middle ear to the upper portion of the throat and the back portion of the nasal cavity – becomes either clogged or swollen as a result of a sinus infection, a cold, swollen adenoids and a variety of other reasons.
Here’s a look at 10 tell-tale signs that indicate you have an ear infection.
1. Feeling like the flu
Common symptoms associated with the flu include congestion, a headache, a runny nose and a fever; however, while these symptoms are often indicative of the flu, they can also be signs of an ear infection. An ear infection is often the result of sinus congestion that clogs the Eustachian tube. When this tube is blocked, it makes sense that it will lead to a headache, congestion, a runny nose and other symptoms that are commonly associated with the flu. If you experience these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it’s probably an ear infection.