Causes And Risk Factors For Bullous Myringitis

Bullous myringitis is a form of ear infection that can result in severe pain. Unlike other forms of ear infection, bullous myringitis causes the formation of blisters on the eardrum. However, there is no accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum. Symptoms of this condition generally include hearing loss in the infected ear and a sensation of fullness in the ear. Patients may also present with a fever and with fluid draining from the ear. The pain experienced from this condition typically has a sudden onset and may last for up to forty-eight hours. 

To diagnose this form of ear infection, doctors will examine the ear with an otoscope. To differentiate between bullous myringitis and other kinds of ear infections, doctors may blow a puff of air into the ear to obtain additional information. Treatment for this condition generally consists of pain relievers and antibiotics, some of which can be given in the form of ear drops.

Common Cold

The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract and is caused by a virus. Symptoms include runny nose, cough, headache, minor body aches, and a low fever. While children get more frequent colds than adults, it is typical for healthy adults to have as many as three colds each year. The common cold is considered a risk factor for ear infections because it can irritate the Eustachian tubes, and it may prevent these tubes from draining fluid as they normally would. 

This would then allow virus-containing fluid from the cold to enter the ear, potentially leading to an infection. Bullous myringitis is caused by the same viruses and bacteria that cause other types of ear infections. To reduce the risk of catching a cold, patients are typically advised to wash their hands regularly and use hand sanitizer. It can also be helpful to avoid touching surfaces and the eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.

Presence Of The Flu

The presence of the flu can significantly increase an individual's risk of contracting an ear infection such as bullous myringitis. As with colds, the flu may also prevent proper drainage from the Eustachian tubes, and infected fluid from the respiratory tract of patients with this illness then accumulates in the ear. Symptoms of colds and the flu can overlap, and some patients with the flu will experience headaches, cough, a runny nose, and a fever. However, flu symptoms are generally more severe and have a quicker onset, which may pose a greater risk of ear infection. Patients with the flu are likely to have fatigue, and they will also typically present with chills, sweating, a sore throat, and aching muscles. While flu symptoms generally subside after a week, the fatigue may linger for two to three weeks. 

There is no vaccine for colds, but the flu vaccine can provide protection against this virus and reduce the severity of symptoms in patients who do contract it. New flu vaccines are formulated each year based on which strain appears to be the most prevalent, and the flu vaccine needs to be given annually. To reduce the risk of the flu, it is often recommended that patients wash their hands regularly and dispose of any used tissues promptly. If a patient does contract the flu, they should stay home for approximately five to seven days to avoid spreading this illness to others.

Middle Ear Infection

A middle ear infection is the most common type of ear infection among children. Children with these types of infections may pull at the affected ear, and they may cry more often than they normally do. Parents may also notice fluid draining from the affected ear, and the child may present with hearing difficulties or trouble with balance. Treatment of middle ear infections includes pain relievers and antibiotics, and severe cases involving recurrent infections may require surgery. 

Having a middle ear infection, especially one that is not responding to treatment or that has gone on for many days, can raise the risk of bullous myringitis. Patients should be carefully monitored during treatment, and the ear should be examined again after treatment with antibiotics to be certain the infection is gone. To reduce the risk of ear infections, patients should stay up to date on all vaccinations and avoid secondhand smoke.

Children More At Risk

Children have developing immune systems and smaller Eustachian tubes than adults, and this puts children more at risk of contracting ear infections and other illnesses like colds and flu. Unlike adults, children have not yet received the full series of many vaccinations, and this reduces their ability to fight infections. In addition, children are often exposed to more infections due to time spent at group daycare or school facilities where other children may be ill. They tend to put objects in their mouths and put their hands in their mouths frequently, raising the risk of infection. While children's Eustachian tubes are smaller than those of adults, they also lie in a more horizontal position in the ear, reducing drainage capabilities and raising the risk of fluid accumulation.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is particularly common in children, and ear infections such as bullous myringitis are possible complications of this condition. Strep throat is caused by a type of bacteria known as group A Streptococcus. Symptoms of strep throat include a fever and a severe sore throat that occurs suddenly. Patients do not have a cough with this infection, but they may have pain when swallowing, and the lymph nodes of the neck may swell. Patients may also observe the presence of small red spots (petechiae) on the roof of the mouth. To diagnose strep throat, doctors can perform a throat culture, and the illness can be treated with antibiotics. In addition to ear infections, potential complications of strep throat include sinus infections and abscesses around the tonsils.