Ear Infection

Ear Infection Specialist
Ear infections can be incredibly painful and sometimes result in permanent hearing loss. Dr. Mary Totten provides evaluation and treatment of chronic and frequent ear infections at her Anchorage, Alaska practice, Aurora ENT. Advanced treatment methods from Dr. Totten, a specialist in her field, can provide long-term relief for patients.

Ear Infection Q & A

by Mary C. Totten, M.D.

What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

The most common symptom of an ear infection is mild, moderate, or severe ear pain that is more intense when lying down. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Pulling at the ear: Pulling may demonstrate ear pain in infants and toddlers
  • Changes in hearing: Difficulty hearing
  • Balance problems and frequent falls
  • Headache
  • Drainage from the ear: Sometimes with blood present
  • Fever over 100 degrees F
  • An “underwater” feeling

What causes ear infections?

Ear infections are caused by bacteria in the middle ear. Colds, allergies, or anatomy can cause inflammation in the eustachian tubes, which play an important role in ear health. When the eustachian tubes are inflamed, fluid is unable to drain and can accumulate in the ear, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and resulting in an ear infection.

When should a doctor be seen?

Ear infections can become very painful very quickly, often resulting in an emergency room visit for relief. Patients who suspect they may have an ear infection should schedule an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible. These signs might be an indication that an evaluation is needed:

  • Unbearable ear pain
  • Discharge or pus, blood, or fluid from the ear
  • Symptoms last longer than 24 hours
  • The patient is less than 6 months old

How are ear infections treated?

Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for ear infection. When ear infections are chronic, repetitive, or unresponsive to antibiotics, tubes may be surgically inserted to open passageways, promote fluid drainage, and resolve and prevent ear infections.

When are patients referred to a specialist?

Primary care doctors treat uncomplicated ear infections frequently. When ear infections recur frequently or do not respond to traditional treatment attempts, the patient is often referred to an ENT for further evaluation and treatment.

What are the risks of chronic ear infection?

Chronic or frequent ear infections can result in ruptured ear drum and permanent hearing loss. Patients who suspect they have an ear infection or parents who suspect their child has an ear infection should schedule an appointment as early as possible to prevent long-term complications.

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Mary Totten, M.D.
3340 Providence Drive
A461
Anchorage, AK 99508