What Is Inflammation of the Ears?

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Ear inflammation signals a more serious condition and requires prompt treatment. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, if left untreated, ear inflammation could lead to hearing loss, chronic ear infections and physically damage delicate ear tissues.

Definition

Inflammation is your ear's response to an irritant. Inflammation is your body's attempt to remove or heal the cause of irritation. The most common irritants for ears are bacteria, viruses, mucus and skin conditions.

Types

Acute inflammation lasts only a few days and heals on its own. Acute inflammation may occur if you have a pimple, insect bite, sunburn or eczema on your ear lobe.

Long-lasting, chronic inflammation doesn't always respond to medical treatment. Chronic eustachian tube dysfunction is caused by chronic inflammation. Sinus drainage irritates tissues in your middle ear. Inflammation traps fluid and mucus, eventually causing an infection or ear drum damage.

Identification

Pain sometimes accompanies inflammation of the ear. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, pain resulting from inflammation is common with outer ear infections. When water gets trapped in your ear canal, bacteria can spread causing inflammation and pain.

Effects

Inner ear inflammation can occur following a viral infection such as a flu or upper respiratory infection. The virus irritates the inner ear, swelling your balance organs. Dizziness with or without pain is the most common symptom of inner ear inflammation.

Prevention/Warning

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, ear inflammation can be inflicted by using cotton swabs. Avoid sticking anything into your ear canals. Report any dizziness to your physician. Inner ear inflammation—left untreated—can cause irreversible damage to your hearing and balance organs.

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