Question: My name is Don, 43 had an ear infection in both ears. Started in my left ear and my family doctor gave me ear drops than my right ear got infected. So the doctor prescribed antibiotics. The infection went down but she prescribed another round of antibiotics. The infection went away now I have a post ear infection echo. She prescribed steroids, but still the echo still there. Then I went to an ENT and she gave me steroid injection. It’s been 4 day now an I’m still have the echo noises. From the day I had an infection it now it’s been 7 weeks. Also, I had no pain during my infection. Please help.
Thank you for your question. I wish I could give you an easy answer. There are three different types of ear infections all of which could cause a post ear infection echo. An infection in the outer ear- otitis externa, (ear canal), the middle ear- otitis media (where the hearing bones are) and the inner ear (where the hearing nerve is). Each has a different presentation, a different set of symptoms, a different cause and different treatment.
An outer ear infection (otitis externa) is an infection of the skin lined tube which makes up the ear canal. This is often called swimmer’s ear. There will frequently be pain when you pull on your ear lobe. It is generally treated with ear drops and keeping the ear dry.
A middle ear infection (otitis media) is caused by a blocking of the tube that drains fluid from the space behind the ear drum. This is common in children, or in adults after flying with a cold. There is usually a hearing loss associated. It is frequently, but not always painful, and pulling on the ear does not cause discomfort. It is usually treated with antibiotics and nasal sprays or decongestants to open up the eustachian tube that drains the middle ear.
An inner ear infection is usually caused by a viral infection of the nerve. It can cause a sudden hearing loss, spinning vertigo, or both. There usually is no pain It is generally treated with steroids- either by mouth or now by injection into the ear. (trans-tympanic steroid injection)
I am not sure which type of infection you have- or perhaps a combination of more than one. If you had a steroid injection, it sounds likely that this was an inner ear infection. I would speak to your ENT doctor further so that you can get a better understanding of what has been going on and what your treatments for your ear infection echo.
Of course, if you’re in the area, we would be more than happy to see you here at the NY Otolaryngology Group and help clear things up. Bringing any hearing test you might have had would be quite helpful.
Robert L Pincus MD
NY Otolaryngology Group