Are Ear Infections Contagious?

An ear infection can be irritating. It robs your peace of mind not to mention that it causes and ear to tingle. In some severe cases, an ear infection can interfere with your hearing ability. Ear infections are common in children, unlike adults but it’s not a contagious.

However, that doesn’t mean that an adult cannot develop the same problem. Given all these unfortunate experiences, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to pass the infection from one person to the other. 

Ear Infections are mainly caused by viral or bacterial infections which in turn upsets the middle ear. These infections are rampant among children but often end on their own. But in some severe cases, they require medical attention.

When do Ear Infections Develop?

Ear infections are common during cold seasons or contagious infections. This is why most people believe that ear infections are contagious. Scroll down to learn whether ear infections are contagious, their primary causes, and how to keep them at bay.

Are Ear Infections Contagious or Spread from One Person to the Other?

The truth is that ear infections are not spread from one person to the other. But as we’ve pointed earlier, ear infections occur following a viral or bacterial infection and they are contagious. Below are three categories of ear infections;

  • External ear infection; this is alternatively known as swimmer’s ear
  • Middle ear infection; this is quite common in children and it’s referred to as otitis media.
  • Labyrinthitis; this kind of infection occurs as a result of inflammation of your inner ear.

Bacteria and viruses trigger ear infections. They are arise following the flu or common cold. The viruses and bacteria can be transferred from one person to the other. Hence, they increase the chances of getting an ear infection. Viruses are also spread by getting into contact with contaminated surfaces.

For instance, influenza spreads through droplets. So, when you inhale infectious droplets or they find their way into your mouth, you will get infected. Those droplets are released when one coughs, sneezes, or talks.  As a result, you may develop an ear infection.

How Ear Infections Develop

Once the viruses and bacteria reach the middle ear, an ear infection develops especially if you have your Eustachian tubes are swollen or you have nasal congestion. Eustachian tubes are narrow and they run from your middle ear to the throat. They help regulate air and remove fluid from the ear.

Inflammation and swelling of the Eustachian tubes trigger blockages hence cause the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. This, in turn, causes ear pain, headaches, and pressure. These are the signs of an ear infection.

Below are other health conditions that are likely to block the Eustachian tubes;

  • Allergies
  • Sinus infections
  • Smoking
  • Seasonal changes
  • Swollen adenoids
  • Changes in air pressure

How to Treat an Ear Infection

 Over 80% of ear infections disappear without being treated. So, once you visit your doctor, the inquires and examines to see the symptoms. If they are not advanced symptoms, they may not prescribe any medication since the ear can heal itself. However, if the condition is severe, medication is prescribed to speed up the healing process.

But for young children who may be experiencing mild ear pains, the doctor applies the watch-and-wait strategy. That way, they monitor the progress. If the condition fails to improve, antibiotic treatment is offered or, if it’s an external ear infection, ear drops are given. But in critical conditions, the doctor may recommend surgery to eliminate the excess fluid already in the middle ear.

How to Prevent an Ear Infection

Though ear infections are not contagious, they are prone hence worth preventing since they cause a lot of pain. Since bacteria and viruses that cause ear infection are contagious, the best way to control the spread is by keeping the germs at bay. To prevent the spread of germs, you should take the following measures;

  • Always clean your hands with soap and running water
  • When coughing or sneezing, make sure that your mouth is covered
  • Avoid sharing utensils with someone with flu-like symptoms
  • Do not smoke or avoid inhaling the second-hand smoke.
  • Go for flu or virus vaccinations.

In case you have a fever, stay at home, and interact with other people after the fever ends.

Bottom Line

 Ear infections cannot be spread from one person to the other, but the viruses and bacteria increase the chances of getting infected since they are contagious, including those from the flu or cold. But by applying health habits, you reduce the risk of an ear infection.