Otitis media is one of the most common infection which can happen to anyone but mostly affects kids and young infants. A lot of people can develop a middle ear infection but infants between six and 15 months old are highly susceptible. Before we dive in knowing about the cause of the middle ear infections, let’s have look at symptoms in adults and kids.
Symptoms of a middle ear infection
The symptoms of otitis media generally resolve in a few days; the condition is called acute otitis media. The main symptoms include:
- a high temperature (fever)
- being sick
- a lack of energy
- slight hearing loss
If the middle ear is filled with fluid, a patient may experience hearing loss. This is known as otitis media with effusion. Also, a hole in the eardrum or perforated eardrum may cause earache, which is caused by the build-up of fluid stretching the eardrum.
Indications of ear infections in kids
Infants and kids are unable to communicate the pain & discomfort as adults can, so it becomes difficult to understand what’s wrong with them. Signs of infection include:
- Pulling or rubbing their ear
- Poor feeding or restlessness at night
- Coughing or a runny nose
- No response to quiet sounds
- Signs of difficulty hearing, such as inattentiveness
- Loss of balance
Mostly, otitis media resolves within a few days, but if you wish, you can consult with an ENT doctor. However, if you or your child have symptoms which are the persistent event after two or three days such as discharge of pus or fluid from the ear, or chronic ear pain; this is known as chronic otitis media.
Also Read: Ear infection map – inner, middle and outer!
What causes middle ear infections?
Most middle ear infections happen when an infection such as cold leads to a build-up of mucus in the middle ear. The same can block the passage and mucus can’t drain away as it’s supposed to, acts as a catalyst for an infection to spread into the middle ear.
Also, enlarged adenoids can block the Eustachian tube, so as a remedy, adenoids are removed if it causes persistent or frequent ear infections. Kids are particularly vulnerable to ear infections as the Eustachian tube is smaller in kids than in adults. A child’s adenoids are relatively much larger than adults. Others conditions may increase the risk of middle ear infections, including:
- Having a cleft palate – a birth defect where a child has a split in the roof of their mouth
- Down’s syndrome – a genetic condition that causes some level of learning disability
Prevention of middle ear infections
Prevention of middle ear infections are really hard, and mostly, they can not be prevented. However, there are certain measures you can take to reduce your child’s risk of developing the condition.
- Make sure your child is up-to-date with their routine vaccinations
- Avoid exposing your child to smoky environments (passive smoking)
- Don’t give your child a dummy once they’re older than six to 12 months old
- Don’t feed your child while they’re lying flat on their back
- If possible, feed your baby with breast milk rather than formula milk
- Avoiding contact with other children who are unwell
At-home treatment of acute ear infections
Ear infections necessarily don’t need any specific treatment. A patient can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain or high temperature. A precaution, any painkillers are given to a child must be appropriate for their age. Some doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat middle ear infections, but rarely when symptoms are particularly severe.
Advanced treatment of middle ear infections
Painkiller and antibiotics are not capable of curing bacterial infections, on the other hand, it also increases risk bacteria becoming resistant to them over time. This may get serious as infections could become untreatable in the future. If antibiotics are really required, amoxicillin is prescribed, also clarithromycin may be used for people allergic to amoxicillin.
With new developments in science & technology, new, modern, high-precision and technologically sophisticated surgical procedures are helping patients with symptoms. In order to treat the infection and minimize the chances of reoccurrence, ENT specialists & surgeons performed daycare procedure.
A patient is given a general anesthetic, the procedure hardly takes 60 – 90 minutes and involves fewer incisions. The advanced treatments offer faster recovery and rarely inflict any complication. You can consult with a good ENT specialist or ear doctor to understand and know more about modern procedures for you or your kid.
Do I need to take precautions after the treatment?
Since the modern procedures are daycare, performed in an outpatient setting. A patient can return home the very same day, in a few cases, the next day. Antibiotics, decongestants and mild pain reliever may be given if there is a cold or an allergy. You also have to remember to keep water away from the ear, and not blow your nose. Most of the patients can return to work or regular routine after 2-3 days, or 1 to 3 weeks if they perform heavy physical labor which is frowned upon.
Also Read: Surgical Solutions for the Ear!