Infection of the ear has several different causes and underlying risk factors. There are many different causes of ear infections, here are a few.
- Diabetes. This is an underlying cause of many different types of infection and is involved in many cases. High levels of sugar in the blood promote the development of bacterial culture and can alter the way blood flows through the vessels. This makes the disease process longer and more drawn out and treatments less likely to be a success. Control of the level of glucose in the blood is essential in preventing the problem and ensuring that the treatment is successful. as well as increasing the risk of infections in general, diabetes can also make infections more severe and harder to treat.
- Eczema. Psoriasis, eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions predispose sufferers to ear infections. This is due to the fact that they cause the skin to be weakened and more likely to break. This allows bacteria into the skin and allows them to set up a new home. As well as this the ears become itchy, inviting dirty fingers to scratch, breaking the skin and introducing more bacteria. Inflamed skin has altered blood flow and bacteria find it easier to take hold in the damaged skin. Treatment with emollients and steroid creams, as well as avoiding soaps and perfumes can settle the conditions down make them less of a problem.
- Foreign bodies. The presence of a foreign body in the ear canal can result in an ear infection due to the reduction of ventilation and air movement. Fluid can build up behind it which can become infected. The foreign body itself may be colonised with bacteria. This includes ear plugs. Dirty old ear plugs can introduce bacteria to the ears. Our molded ear plugs are washable and antibacterial so are far more hygienic than many other types.
- Swimmer's ear. This is caused by water in the ear canal softening the protective layer of skin in the ear and letting germs in. It is more common in swimmers as their ears are wet more frequently and for longer periods. A good pair of swimming ear plugs such us ours will block the water and kill germs at the same time. Swimmer's ear can involve a degree of dermatitis and a visit to the doctor may be be necessary to consider antibiotics and steroids.
- Idiopathic. Many times no cause is found, whether one is present or not.
If any of the topics in this article may affect you then you must consult your doctor. This article is not to be treated as medical advice.
Dr Toby Bateson