Ear infections are very common. They can be divided into three groups;
- Infections of the outer ear and ear canal (otitis externa/swimmers' ear)
- Infection of the middle ear, behind the ear drum (otitis media)
- Infection of the inner ear
Otitis externa is common and can be caused by repeatedly getting your ears wet. The water breaks down the protective wax in your ears and allows water to penetrate the skin. It carries bacteria into the underlying dermis. Here it can cause inflammation and infection. This appears as redness, soreness, itching, discharge and reduced hearing from clogging of the canal.
Alternative causes of the otitis externa type of ear infection include local eczema and psoriasis. Other causes include foreign bodies like insects and food debris in the ears and what some doctors call idiopathic. This is just one of those things where no cause is found. Protecting your ears against foreign bodies and water can help; ear plugs from ZenPlugs are specially designed for this.
Middle ear infections can occur as the result of an outer ear infection spreading past the ear drum, causing fluid to build up in the middle ear. Blockage of the Eustachian tube from inflammation in the nasal cavity stops the fluid draining. It builds up, increasing the pressure to the point where the drum can rupture. This is intensely painful and is associated with a rush of pus from the ear and reduced hearing. The infection and the pain usually subside once the eardrum (tympanic membrane) has burst. The ZenPlugs Website has more information and advice on ear infections prevention and treatment. Inner ear infection tends to be viral in origin and can cause poor balance and altered hearing. This is due to inflammation in the delicate structures of the inner ear.