Whether a person is a young infant or a senior citizen, they can acquire an ear infection. Ear infections bring along a host of symptoms ranging from annoying to serious, and many of them stay confined to the outer ear. Although all ear infections can be painful, they are easier to treat and tend to clear up more quickly when the infection is located in the middle or outer ear.
However, at times, the infection is located in the inner portion of the ear. These types of infections tend to last longer and be more serious, so it is important that you are aware of the symptoms so that you can seek professional help.
What is Labyrinthitis?
An inner ear infection is an infection that is located in the innermost portion of the ear. This area includes the cochlea, semi-circular canals filled with fluid, and the vestibular and auditory nerves.
Many times, an inner ear infection is not actually an infection at all. Instead, the symptoms are caused by inflammation or irritation from a variety of sources. However, at times, a virus or bacteria can cause an actual infection in this portion of the ear.
Viruses are the most common causes of infections of the inner ear. These viruses include herpes viruses, influenza, polio, or the Epstein-Barr virus. Bacterial infections are possible but less common.
Common Inner Ear Infection Symptoms
Infections can occur in the outer, middle or inner ear. Symptoms of an inner ear infection tend to be quite severe and appear rapidly, although some people might not experience them.
Patients often experience:
- Vertigo, which is a dizzy or spinning sensation
- Difficulty with balance tasks
- Earache or throbbing sensation in the ear
- Hearing loss in the affected ear
- Ringing or other abnormal sounds in the ear
Inner Ear Infection Treatment at Home
It is important to note that it’s wise to seek the assistance of a medical professional when you suspect that you have an infection in your inner ear. These infections can ultimately cause hearing loss or other damage if they are not dealt with properly.
However, there are also some home remedies that you can use along with professional help to make yourself more comfortable and reduce your symptoms. Applying a warm compress can help reduce pain and relieve the pressure that you feel in your ear. Many people find a warm, wet compress, such as a washcloth dipped in hot water, to be quite soothing.
Lying down can often increase pain and pressure, so it might be helpful to rest and sleep in an inclined position until your symptoms resolve. In addition, gargling with warm salt water helps keep your Eustachian tubes clear along with soothing the sore throat that often accompanies ear problems.
When this type of infection is treated promptly and properly, it typically clears up in approximately two weeks with no lasting effects. However, untreated infections can sometimes cause serious damage, so prompt treatment is recommended.