Ear infections are common ailments in many children and some adults. While it is ideal to prevent ear infections from occurring, you must first know what causes them. Should you find yourself unable to prevent infection completely, the best steps for treatment can be beneficial to your recovery. Bacterial and viral ear infections are both similar and different in a few regards.

Visit AFC Urgent Care Hillsdale for treatment of an ear infection. Our providers can recommend proper treatment options for all general illnesses this winter. 

Causes of Ear Infections

The cause of an ear infection can be bacterial or viral. The ear canal is connected to the throat and nose. When congestion blocks the passages or swelling makes it difficult for fluid to drain, an infection can occur. Blocked fluid sits in the middle ear due to the bacteria or virus that caused the congestion, leading to an ear infection. These blockages can also be caused by sinus infections, swollen adenoids, and allergies.

Treating Ear Infections

The treatment for an ear infection is dependent on a few factors. Firstly, the age of the person affected. Adults can typically beat an ear infection without a visit to a doctor. Children, however, may need to see their pediatrician if they have not improved within 2-3 days. A doctor will determine if an ear infection requires antibiotics or if the condition will improve on its own.

An adult with an ear infection will likely deal with symptoms for 7 to 10 days without improvement before being prescribed an antibiotic. Children that are not getting better within a couple of days may get a prescription much sooner. Sometimes, a doctor will prescribe ear drops for an ear infection. The treatment plan is dependent on the cause, the patient’s age, and how long symptoms have lasted.


Preventing an ear infection is always better than treating one. Since ear infections are often the result of colds and similar illnesses, prevention is similar to preventing respiratory illnesses. Hygiene is vital to prevention – wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer when necessary. Avoid smoking, secondhand smoke, and drinking or eating after others. Keep unwashed hands away from your mouth, nose, eyes, and ears.

In addition to preventing ear infections personally, you should aim to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses that can cause ear infections in others. You can do this by covering your sneezes and coughs, practicing basic hygiene, and staying home when you are unwell. Following these recommendations are especially important if you may find yourself around children or immunocompromised individuals. Prevent the spread of germs to help prevent illnesses like ear infections.