Ear infection with discharge can result from several causes, all of which necessitate treatment from a medical professional. One common cause of ear infection is viral disease, which can lead to swelling of the ear tubes and fluid becoming trapped there. Bacteria or fungi present in the fluid can grow and cause ear infection symptoms. Eustachian tube abnormalities can cause ear tube infection, as can inflamed and swollen adenoids. Ear infection can also result from a hole in the eardrum.
One of the most common causes of ear infection with discharge is viruses. When a person gets a cold or similar viral infection, the membranes that line the ear can become inflamed, close up and fill with fluid. The Eustachian tubes, located in the inner ear, can also become inflamed and filled with fluid. When fluid is trapped in the ear, harmful bacteria or fungi can grow and cause an ear infection with discharge. If the condition isn't treated promptly, the pressure of the fluid can damage or tear the eardrum, causing eardrum infection.
Another one of the common causes of ear infection with discharge is the result of the size and structure of the Eustachian tubes. Water is easily trapped inside tubes that are either too short or have an abnormal position. Chronic ear infection can result, especially in children, because their Eustachian tubes are shorter than those of adults.
Infected adenoids can cause ear infection with discharge. Adenoids are organs that are located in the upper throat, near the Eustachian tubes. When adenoids become inflamed, they can swell and cause the Eustachian tubes to become blocked, often resulting in ear infection.
A hole in the eardrum can result if a person is exposed to an extremely loud noise. The eardrum functions as a natural barrier to keep bacteria out of the inner ear. If bacteria get through a hole in the eardrum, however, they can cause ear infection and fever.
Infant ear infection is common because the immune systems of babies aren't as developed as those of adults. Children are more prone to illness and have a harder time fighting off infection, which explains why there's a higher rate of ear infection in babies and toddlers than in older children and adults. Risk factors for chronic ear infection with discharge include poor diet and hygiene, exposure to cigarette smoke and living in overcrowded conditions.