7 Symptoms of an Ear Infection

An ear infection is an affliction normally suffered during infancy and childhood, but some adults experience ailments of the ear as well, sometimes from underlying conditions. The ear is an intricate part of the body and has different areas and cavities that can harbor bacteria and viruses. The ear is composed of three parts, referred to as the inner, middle, and outer ear. According to statistics, we are more likely to get infections in the middle ear and outer ear. If there’s an issue with the inner ear, it’s sometimes an indication of a more serious illness.

The area referred to as the middle ear is right behind your eardrum, and infections in this area are usually caused by bacteria from other areas that are in close proximity, namely the mouth, eyes, and nose. The bacteria builds up behind the eardrum, resulting in an infection.

Regarding the outer part of the ear, it’s the part of the ear canal that goes from the eardrum to the outer part of the ear. This area of the ear can become infected from injuries caused by objects being inserted into the ear, such as cotton swabs or your fingernail.

1. Outer Ear Redness

Outer ear redness is a common symptom of an infection in the outer ear canal. This may start with an itchy rash and progress to an infection in the ear canal. Otitis externa, more commonly known as “swimmer’s ear,” is caused when water remains in the ear after swimming. The moisture created is ideal for bacterial growth. You can also develop swimmer’s ear from damage to the skin in your ear; this is usually caused by fingers or cotton swabs being placed in the ear. The dead skin in your ears, along with earwax, is constantly being pushed outwards and when you push cotton swabs in your ears, it sometimes defeats the purpose, as you’re pushing all of that skin and wax back into your ears.

This type of infection can be treated with drops if caught early. The redness in and around your ear will become more pronounced as the infection worsens. You can also develop an outer ear infection by hairspray or other fluids entering and irritating the ear canal. The bacteria, and sometimes fungi, that cause these types of infections aren’t always introduced to the ear canal by way of water. Some of these organisms are already present in the ear canal. The water or liquid is the component that creates the breeding ground for the bacteria to thrive.