Can you get an ear infection from being out in the cold?
Contrary to popular belief, cold weather does not cause ear infections. An ear infection is caused by bacteria in the upper respiratory system that travels up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear. Even though cold weather doesn't cause the issue, it can make symptoms more pronounced.
What happens if an ear infection is left untreated? Ear infections can lead to more serious complications, including mastoiditis (a rare inflammation of a bone adjacent to the ear), hearing loss, perforation of the eardrum, meningitis, facial nerve paralysis, and possibly -- in adults -- Meniere's disease.
- If the symptoms have gone on for longer than six weeks, you may have long-term (chronic) Eustachian tube dysfunction. It is important to check there are no underlying problems.
- A sinus infection primarily affects your nose, but symptoms can extend to the ears as well. The sinus-ear connection stems from the fact that your sinuses and ears are connected; therefore, clogged and congested sinuses also affect the ears. Over-the-counter pain medications can help relieve ear pain.
- The treatment of a middle ear infection depends on how bad the symptoms are and what's causing the infection. Many infections will go away on their own and the only treatment necessary is medication for pain. Up to 80% of ear infections may go away without antibiotics.
Sometimes the cause of hearing loss is something that could have been avoided, like noise, diet, or even cold weather. In the winter, it is important to protect you ears, especially when doing outdoor activities. This growth blocks the ear, causes ear infections, and can also result in hearing loss.
- Exostosis, also called osteoma, is a benign growth of new bone on top of existing bone. It can occur in many parts of the body. When the exostosis is covered with cartilage, it's called an osteochondroma. Exostosis can be painless, or it can cause severe pain and require surgical removal.
- Surfer's ear is the common name for an exostosis or abnormal bone growth within the ear canal. Irritation from cold wind and water exposure causes the bone surrounding the ear canal to develop lumps of new bony growth which constrict the ear canal.
- Symptoms of ear infections in adults vary depending on location and can include:
- inflammation and pain.
- tenderness to the touch.
- hearing changes.
Updated: 18th November 2019