Ear infection and meningitis... 9/27/2011 3:21PM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Quick question. I've got a nasty ear infection and saw my ENT yesterday and all he did was prescribe ear drops. It has been an intense ear pain for almost 48 hours and I have had constant red drainage from my ear. Im worried because I read that if it is not treated properly, it can turn into meningitis. Anyone have any experience or knowledge on the chances of this actually happening?

And my running has obviously gone to crap because of this. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. It just seems like antibiotics would be warranted in this situation, but what do I know?

whatever man
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/27/2011 3:36PM - in reply to SickJoe Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
It's odd that I am on here today because I rarely come here anymore. I probably won't be on here again till next year. However, I have had this sort of ear problem since I was a child and it's a major headache at times.

Caveat: You might be able to disregard what I write below as you may merely have otitis media, a garden variety and nasty ear infection. That's nothing a good round of antibiotics can't cure in a week. However get the discharge cultured so you have the correct antibiotic.

What it was, in my case, was quite a bit worse and OM. I had a cholesteatoma, a slow-growing growth behind the ear drum which can cause the ear drum to rupture and ultimately (if left untreated) meningitis. Usually the fringe or tip of a cholesatoma is visible behind the ear drum when the otolarynologist (ENT specialist) takes a look with his device, but not always.

You will probably want to query the doc you went to and see whether he thinks there is any chance that it is a cholesteatoma. I have had four ear surgeries (age, 6, 16, 20, 36) because of this bitch, including a radical mastoidectomy. I also had my original ear drum taken out and then the reconstructed one taken out and replaced. I've lost 60% of my hearing in my right ear. What it also did was drain my energy a bit, like I am a quarter or half-sick all the time when I was growing up.

Not so great for running optimally but I digress.

Now otolarynologists and ENT surgeons have gotten more sophisticated about the removal and eradication of the cholestoma and it may not come back, but you never know with this one. It is close enough to the lining of the brain that you always have to watch out for these sorts of things. One saving grace is it is very slow growing so if it is discovered you might have several months before you need a surgery.

An ear infection, since it is that close to the brain lining, can certainly cause meningitis if left to its own devices. Thank goodness for antibiotics, this would kill someone in the pre-1900s.

It's a MFer, but you will need to get it checked out. If you need surgery, I had a bandaged head, and could not run for 12 days or so. I walked 2-3 hours a day instead, so it worked out OK. Also, the best place in the country (arguably) to get this taken care of (if you happen to be near there) is the House sp? Clinic in Los Angeles / Torrance, CA.

Good luck, and in this case I hope I am wasting my time and it's nothing major.
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/27/2011 5:51PM - in reply to whatever man Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I have a pretty regular inspection of my ears(every 2 or 3 months) because I have had issues in the past (multiple surgeries) and he has not spotted anything of the sort. Thanks for the input though.
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/27/2011 5:57PM - in reply to SickJoe Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
She jumped off your dick now she's sick!
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/27/2011 6:11PM - in reply to Menace Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Cant even imagine why a troll would be attracted to a thread such as this...
peds doc
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/27/2011 8:21PM - in reply to SickJoe Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I've been doing primary care pediatrics now for almost 25 years and have never seen a case of meningitis related to ear infection except for one case - I used to take care of a young man who actually got multiple (about 10) cases of pneumococcal meningitis. Multiple huge workups eventually led to the theory that the source might be one of his ears - he had had some trauma as a young man. Nuclear tracers injected into his spinal fluid eventually showed up in the middle ear and an ENT/neurosurgeon went in and patched it up. Other than that, I've never seen it. Could it happen? Sure. But it would be really rare.

I did see a kid from Central America with a brain abscess many many years ago when I was a med student - he had apparently had chronic, untreated ear infections for months or more, had developed mastoiditis which then progressed into his central nervous system. Very nasty. Only case of that I ever saw, and this was a poor, undocumented family that was too poor and too scared to seek care until the poor kid was near death.

Docs are being told to try and reduce antibiotic use as a public health measure to reduce antibiotic resistance. Most docs, though, would still treat draining ears, especially if associated with a lot of pain, with oral antibiotics. We do in my practice, anyway.

I guess one question would be why you would go to an ENT for an ear infection, unless you had already had a lot of ear problems? Ear infections are bread and butter for simple primary care docs like me - not everything needs a specialist. My advice would be just to call him back up if you are still having problems. He will probably phone in a prescription for you. If not, just go see a simple old family doc.
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/27/2011 9:23PM - in reply to peds doc Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Peds Doc,

Thanks for the advice. It gives me some comfort. I went to my ENT because I have had about 8 ear surgeries (repair of my ear drums, drilling of the ear bones, etc.), as well as sinus surgery. Everything up there has been an anatomical mess from day 1. So, ear infections were very normal as a kid, but I only get them every couple of years as an adult. This time, the pain is unreal and has been constant for 48 hours, accompanied by continuous bloody drainage. I try to avoid antibiotics because before my sinus surgery 2 years ago, I was on an antibiotic every other month for sinus infections, and have since been able to go about 5-6 months at a time without an antibiotic.

Its really frustrating because my ear canals are the size of a child's, and my wax gets impacted and stationary, and then this happens.

Thanks for your help.
whatever man
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/27/2011 9:49PM - in reply to SickJoe Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Ok this is somewhat interesting. I had to take antibiotics all the time when I was a kid and I know how they wreak havoc on the system. Be sure to eat lots of yogurt and acidopholous, etc. aka probiotics to counteract antibiotics. When you've had too many probiotics you might get bad gas and then you know you can stop taking them so regularly.

In my last major ear surgery (1999) the ENT surgeon tripled the size of my ear canal because it was so small, and it has much better ventilation now and functions the way it was intended. You may do well with that surgery as the very narrowed ear canal was part of my particular problem (well, that and a cholestatoma that wold not quit).

Since then, I have had a fungal infection which was draining nasty stuff for awhile and I feared the worst, but it was not a cholesteatoma. The ENT cleaned it out with this needle-like vacuum (oh what a joy that is to have a vacuum go into your ear canal and Hoover out wax and crap). Does yur ENT clean yur ears out like this? He should unless the infection is so acute he risks causing some damage.

Then he prescribed me ear drops which did clear it up. The key for that small ear canal is it needs to be enlarged to provide ventilation to the ear drum and general area so it stays healthier and doesn't get moist. Trapped moisture has a predictable effect, probably what you are experiencing at the momemt.

Sorry you are dealing with this crap. ear problems suck, I speak from experience. However there are surgeons who can perform a surgery necessary to enlarge your malformed ear canals. It worked for me and it should work for you, however I don't know whether that would require a reconstructed ear drum too, which would be a lot more complicated. Mine was already blown out so there was no ear drum to preserve.
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/28/2011 2:52PM - in reply to whatever man Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thank you for the information about the surgery to enlarge the ear canal. Have never heard of it (no pun intended), and it sounds like it could really help me out.

Thanks again
whatever man
RE: Ear infection and meningitis... 9/28/2011 11:34PM - in reply to SickJoe Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
You bet and good luck. You'll be on the shelf for about ten days to two weeks, but brisk walking is OK after day two. They may want to do one ear at a time but it can help yu out. Since they did it for me in 1999, 12 years later I would think they are even better at it.

Keep me posted if you want. I'm at I'm likely done with this board for the year. :)