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Can Ear Infection Spread To Brain

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Longer Term Effects Of Inner Ear Infections

Anatomy of mastoiditis, or how an ear infection can get to the brain

Generally, the symptoms will clear up as soon as the infection is gone. However, the effects can sometimes last longer.

You might still feel dizzy and off-balance even when the other symptoms caused by the infection have gone. This can be a sign that the balance organs were damaged. Your brain can usually learn to work with these changes, so your sense of balance should usually come back by itself. However, if youre struggling to cope or the problem persists, you should see an ENT specialist. The doctor can check for any underlying causes and may refer you for vestibular rehabilitation therapy to help you to recover your balance.

Inner ear infections can also have a longer term effect on your hearing. This is more likely if you had bacterial infection, so your doctor might recommend a hearing test to check on your ears after the infection.

Candida Infection Can Reach Brain And Impair Memory

A new study in mice reveals that Candida albicans a fungus largely perceived as harmless can cause memory problems and brain abnormalities that resemble those characteristic of Alzheimers disease.

Candida albicansis a species of fungus that grows naturally in the human gut, mouth, and vagina.

Although the yeast is mostly harmless, it can develop into issues ranging from thrush to more serious infections that reach the blood and other organs.

C. albicans is the most common cause of fungal infections in humans, as well as the most extensively studied fungal pathogen that affects people.

A new study , which appears in the journal Nature Communications, adds to the existing body of knowledge about C. albicans.

The new research shows that the fungus can enter the brain, trigger an inflammatory response, and impair memory in mice.

Importantly, the infection leads to the formation of abnormal structures in the brain, and these share similarities with amyloid plaques a hallmark of Alzheimers disease.

Dr. David B. Corry, a professor of medicine-immunology, allergy, and rheumatology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, is the corresponding and final author of the new study.

When To Worry About A Tooth Infection

If you suspect you have a dental abscess, dont wait until it ruptures to seek treatment. Dental infections should be treated promptly to prevent the spread of the infection. Common symptoms of a dental infection that requires urgent dental care include:

  • Noticeable sore under the gums
  • Swelling and inflammation near the affected tooth
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose tooth
  • A severe, throbbing toothache that doesnt go away
  • Swollen and painful lymph nodes in the neck
  • Pain when chewing or biting down


Tooth abscesses are dental emergencies. They need to be drained by a professional quickly to prevent spreading. A noticeable sore and severe, throbbing pain are the most common symptoms.

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Hematogenous Spread From A Distant Focus

These abscesses are more commonly multiple and multiloculated and are frequently found in the distribution of the middle cerebral artery. The most common effected lobes are the fontal, temporal, parietal, cerebellar, and occipital.

Hematogenous spread is associated with cyanotic heart disease , pulmonary arteriovenous malformations, endocarditis, chronic lung infections , skin infections, abdominal and pelvic infections, neutropenia, transplantation, esophageal dilatation, injection drug use, and HIV infection.

  • Muzumdar D, Jhawar S, Goel A. Brain abscess: an overview. Int J Surg. 2011. 9:136-44. .

  • Brouwer MC1, van de Beek D. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of brain abscesses. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2917. 30:129-134. .

  • Nielsen H, Gyldensted C, Harmsen A. Cerebral abscess. Aetiology and pathogenesis, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. A review of 200 cases from 1935-1976. Acta Neurol Scand. 1982 Jun. 65:609-22. .

  • Helweg-Larsen J, Astradsson A, Richhall H, Erdal J, Laursen A, Brennum J. Pyogenic brain abscess, a 15 year survey. BMC Infect Dis. 2012. 12:332. .

  • Brook I, Friedman EM. Intracranial complications of sinusitis in children. A sequela of periapical abscess. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1982 Jan-Feb. 91:41-3. .

  • Glickstein JS, Chandra RK, Thompson JW. Intracranial complications of pediatric sinusitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2006 May. 134:733-6. .

  • Bensalem MK, Berger JR. HIV and the central nervous system. Compr Ther. 2002 Spring. 28:23-33. .

  • When Should I Return To My Healthcare Provider For A Follow


    Your healthcare provider will let you know when you need to return for a follow-up visit. At that visit, you or your childs eardrum will be examined to be certain that the infection is going away. Your healthcare provider may also want to test you or your child’s hearing.

    Follow-up exams are very important, especially if the infection has caused a hole in the eardrum.

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    How Long Can A Tooth Infection Go Untreated

    If you wait too long to treat a tooth infection, it can begin spreading to other areas of your body, including the neck, head, or jaw. A dentist must professionally drain an abscessed tooth by extracting it or performing a root canal.

    Usually, this includes draining pus and bacteria, which is why some people are actually unaware they have an infection. It is unpredictable to determine how long a dental abscess will drain until it stops and causes facial cellulitis .

    You should never pop or squeeze an abscess because the infection can be pushed deeper into the tissues of your mouth.

    Risks of not treating a tooth infection promptly:

    • Tooth loss
    • Infection of the blood vessels inside the sinuses
    • Bone infection surrounding the tooth
    • Brain abscess
    • Parapharyngeal abscess


    If you don’t receive prompt treatment for an abscess, it can lead to tooth loss, additional infections, sepsis, and even a brain abscess . Never pop an abscess.

    What Causes Middle Ear Infections

    Most middle ear infections occur when an infection such as a cold, leads to a build-up of mucus in the middle ear and causes the Eustachian tube to become swollen or blocked.

    This mean mucus can’t drain away properly, making it easier for an infection to spread into the middle ear.

    An enlarged adenoid can also block the Eustachian tube. The adenoid can be removed if it causes persistent or frequent ear infections. Read more about removing adenoids.

    Younger children are particularly vulnerable to middle ear infections as:

    • the Eustachian tube is smaller in children than in adults
    • a child’s adenoids are relatively much larger than an adults

    Certain conditions can also increase the risk of middle ear infections, including:

    • having a cleft palate a type of birth defect where a child has a split in the roof of their mouth
    • having Down’s syndrome a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and a characteristic range of physical features

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    What Causes An Ear Infection

    Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses. Many times, an ear infection begins after a cold or other respiratory infection. The bacteria or virus travel into the middle ear through the eustachian tube . This tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. The bacteria or virus can also cause the eustachian tube to swell. This swelling can cause the tube to become blocked, which keeps normally produced fluids to build up in the middle ear instead of being able to be drained away.

    Adding to the problem is that the eustachian tube is shorter and has less of a slope in children than in adults. This physical difference makes these tubes easier to become clogged and more difficult to drain. The trapped fluid can become infected by a virus or bacteria, causing pain.

    Medical terminology and related conditions

    Because your healthcare provider may use these terms, its important to have a basic understanding of them:

    What Is Meningitis What Is Encephalitis

    How do infections spread?

    Infections and other disorders affecting the brain and spinal cord can activate the immune system, which leads to inflammation. These diseases, and the resulting inflammation, can produce a wide range of symptoms, including fever, headache, seizures, and changes in behavior or confusion. In extreme cases, these can cause brain damage, stroke, or even death.

    Inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, is called meningitis inflammation of the brain itself is called encephalitis. Myelitis refers to inflammation of the spinal cord. When both the brain and the spinal cord are involved, the condition is called encephalomyelitis.

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    Tooth Infection Treatment Options

    Depending on the cause of the tooth infection, treatment may include:

    Dental Abscess Treatment

    During this procedure, your dentist will make a small incision into your gums and drain the abscess. They will drain all of the pus out before stitching it back up to ensure the bacteria is removed. If your tooth is severely damaged or decayed, extraction will likely be necessary. Youll need a dental implant after the tooth is surgically removed, which can cost up to $4,000.

    Root Canal Treatment

    Root canal treatment is necessary if you have a large cavity that has spread to the tooths pulp. This treatment can also involve abscess draining. During the procedure, your dentist will remove the infected dental pulp and drain the abscess. The root canal is cleaned, shaped, and sealed. Then a dental crown is placed on top of the root canal treated tooth.


    Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat dental abscesses. After the abscess is drained, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to clear up the remaining infection. Antibiotics alone do not cure abscesses. Depending on the severity of your abscess or infection, you may need oral antibiotics or IV antibiotics.


    Three common treatment options for tooth abscesses include drainage , root canal treatment, and antibiotics.

    What Causes Otitis Media Associated Brain Abscesses

    Brain abscess is the first or second most common intracranial complication of COM. Most abscesses form in the temporal lobe or cerebellum, supporting the theory that brain abscesses associated with OM are probably caused by direct extension of infection and not hematogenous spread of bacteria.

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    What Should I Expect If I Or My Child Has An Ear Infection

    Ear infections are common in children. Adults can get them too. Most ear infections are not serious. Your healthcare provider will recommend over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever. Pain relief may begin as soon as a few hours after taking the drug.

    Your healthcare provider may wait a few days before prescribing an antibiotic. Many infections go away on their own without the need for antibiotics. If you or your child receives an antibiotic, you should start to see improvement within two to three days.

    If you or your child has ongoing or frequent infections, or if fluid remains in the middle ear and puts hearing at risk, ear tubes may be surgically implanted in the eardrum to keep fluid draining from the eustachian tube as it normally should.

    Never hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions.

    What Causes Mastoiditis

    AMICUS Illustration of amicus,medical,infection,bacterial ...

    The most common cause of mastoiditis is a middle ear infection that has been left untreated. It can spread to your inner ear, invading the sacs of the mastoid bone, without treatment. This can cause the mastoid bone to begin to disintegrate.

    Although the condition is most common in children, it can also occur in adults.

    The symptoms of mastoiditis are similar to those of an ear infection. They include:

    • drainage from the affected ear
    • hearing loss in the affected ear
    • redness, swelling, and tenderness behind the affected ear

    In some cases, mastoiditis may result in the development of a brain abscess or other complications involving your skull. The symptoms of these conditions include severe headaches and swelling behind your eyes. This swelling is known as papilledema.

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    Where Is The Middle Ear

    The middle ear is behind the eardrum and is also home to the delicate bones that aid in hearing. These bones are the hammer , anvil and stirrup . To provide the bigger picture, lets look at the whole structure and function of the ear:

    The ear structure and function

    There are three main parts of the ear: outer, middle and inner.

    • The outer ear is the outside external ear flap and the ear canal .
    • The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. The middle ear houses the delicate bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This is where ear infections occur.
    • The inner ear contains the snail-shaped labyrinth that converts sound vibrations received from the middle ear to electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain.

    Other nearby parts

    • The eustachian tube regulates air pressure within the middle ear, connecting it to the upper part of the throat.
    • Adenoids are small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids help fight infection caused by bacteria that enters through the mouth.

    Treating A Brain Abscess

    A brain abscess is regarded as a medical emergency. Swelling caused by the abscess can disrupt the blood and oxygen supply to the brain. There’s also a risk of the abscess bursting .

    If left untreated, a brain abscess can cause permanent brain damage and could be fatal.

    A brain abscess is usually treated using a combination of:

    • medicines either antibiotics or antifungals
    • surgery either draining the pus through a hole in the skull or opening the skull and removing the abscess entirely

    Treatment with antibiotics often begins before a diagnosis is confirmed, to reduce the risk of complications.

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    How Is An Ear Infection Treated

    Treatment of ear infections depends on age, severity of the infection, the nature of the infection and if fluid remains in the middle ear for a long period of time.

    Your healthcare provider will recommend medications to relieve you or your childs pain and fever. If the ear infection is mild, depending on the age of the child, your healthcare provider may choose to wait a few days to see if the infection goes away on its own before prescribing an antibiotic.


    Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacteria are thought to be the cause of the ear infection. Your healthcare provider may want to wait up to three days before prescribing antibiotics to see if a mild infection clears up on its own when the child is older. If your or your childs ear infection is severe, antibiotics might be started right away.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended when to prescribe antibiotics and when to consider waiting before prescribing based on your childs age, severity of their infection, and your childs temperature. Their recommendations are shown in the table below.

    American Academy of Pediatrics Treatment Guide for Acute Otitis Media

    Childs Age
    in one or both earsMild for < 48 hours and temp < 102.2° FTreat with antibiotic OR observe. If observe, start antibiotics if child worsens or doesnt improve within 48 to 72 hours of start of symptoms

    Pain-relieving medications

    Ear tubes

    Can A Fungal Ear Infection Spread

    Middle Ear Infection

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    An infection can spread from a nearby area, and this accounts for 1458 percent of brain abscesses. If an infection starts inside the skull, for example in the nose or the ear, it can spread to the brain. Infections that can trigger a brain abscess include: otitis media, or a middle ear infection.

    Subsequently, question is, how do you get rid of fungus in your ear? You may need to use antifungal ear drops to treat otomycosis. They may include clotrimazole and fluconazole. Acetic acid is another common treatment for otomycosis. Usually, a 2 percent solution of these ear drops is used several times a day for about a week.

    Also question is, how long does it take for a fungal ear infection to go away?

    Treatment of otomycosis includes microscopic suction clearance of fungal mass, discontinuation of topical antibiotics and treatment with antifungal ear drops for three weeks. Ear should be kept dry for three weeks. Small perforations heal spontaneously and larger perforation requires myringoplasty.

    What causes a fungal ear infection?

    Share on Pinterest Otomycosis can cause hearing loss and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Otomycosis is an infection caused by a fungus. There are several different types of fungus that can cause this infection, but most otomycosis infections are related to Aspergillus species or, less commonly, Candida.

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    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Inner Ear Infection

    Ear infections can happen anywhere in your outer, middle or inner ear. The symptoms can be very different depending on where the problem is located. If the infection is in your inner ear then it can have a particularly dramatic effect on your senses of balance and hearing. Read on to learn more about inner ear infections and how they can affect you.

    Dont Ignore That Ear Infection

    Ear infections can result in serious neurological complications including hearing loss, facial paralysis, meningitis and brain abscess, according to a study published in the journal of Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. It was found that the use of antibiotics reduces the danger of ear infections but cannot cure them completely.

    Ear infections are caused due to trauma to the ear, bad upper respiratory infection and poor Eustachian tube function, wherein the tube connecting to the nose and ears have common pathways. Dr Pradeep Singh, senior consultant and chief of the department of ENT and neck surgery, states that ear infections must be properly treated, otherwise they can be fatal.

    Why is it important to treat ear infections properly?Prolonged or recurrent ear infections can lead to reduced hearing, dizziness, ringing sounds in the ears and in some cases, spread of infection to the brain. Ear infections can lead to neurological problems. Cholesteatoma is a disease of the ear that has the potential to erode the bony barricade between the middle ear and brain, leading to the potential risk of meningitis, facial nerve paralysis, nerve-related hearing loss and brain abscess. This kind of potential complications require aggressive antibiotics therapy and surgery.

    Keep in mind

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