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Ear Infections & Treatments

Ear pain is often caused by fluid, swelling, or an infection behind the eardrum that does not go away, keeps coming back, or comes on quickly and causes extreme pain. An ear infection can cause long-term or permanent damage to the ear.

An ear infection is caused when the Eustachian tube, which runs from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat, becomes blocked. A chronic ear infection occurs when fluid or an infection behind the eardrum does not go away.

Ear infections are more common in children because their Eustachian tubes are shorter, narrower, and more horizontal than in adults. Chronic, or ongoing, ear infections are much less common than acute ear infections.

An ear, nose and throat specialist may prescribe antibiotics if the ear infection is caused by bacteria. Other treatments also may be necessary including:

  • Surgery to clean the infection out of the mastoid bone (mastoidectomy)
  • Surgery to repair or replace the small bones in the middle ear
  • Repair of the eardrum
  • Ear tube surgery

If you or your child has a an ear infection, one of the board-certified ear, nose and throat specialists with Saint John Hospital may be able to help you. They can provide testing to help determine the cause of the problem, and offer proven medical and surgical treatments.