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What are the causes of ear infection ?

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2565 Questions
My mother has had an ear infection for about 3 weeks. A few wks ago she saw her Dr. who put her on antibiotic ear drops but did not totally clear up the infection. After seeing him yesterday he said that she had white spots on her ear drum and was referring her to an ENT. What could those white spots be? She still has trouble hearing out of the ear as well.
Posted Wed, 2 May 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 2 hours later
Hello and thank you for your query.

I am sorry your mom is dealing with these persistent symptoms related to her ears and her hearing. There are a couple of possibilities which could be going on here. Her physician gave her an antibiotic which will help eliminate any bacteria which triggered the infection.

At this point as the infection is likely resolved, the ear drum may be in the process of healing. Sometimes an infection can cause a bit of scarring of the eardrum which may appear as white spots. These usually heal such that no significant detriment to hearing occurs. Sometimes, an additional course of antibiotic drops or antibiotic drops with a steroid can be used to hasten recovery.

Another possibility here is that there could be a minor fungal infection which is affecting her ear. If this is a fungal type of infection - there are special anti-fungal drops which may be used.

I am not surprised that her hearing is not yet back to normal. With any infection there will be some inflammation of the eardrum and inner ear. This causes a buildup of fluid sometimes which causes a muffling of the hearing. This will generally resolve over a number of weeks as the inflammation improves.

I hope my answer to your query has been both informative and adequate. Should you have followup questions, I am available to address them.

I wish you and your mother all the best and continued good health.


Dr. Galamaga
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