Otitis media, also known as middle ear infection is commonly seen in infants and toddlers and often times goes unnoticed by parents until serve symptoms occur. In infants, the eustachian tubes which connect the ear drum to the nasopharynx and equalizes the pressure in the ear drum with that of the outside atmosphere is much shorter and smaller and can make it much easier for germs, bacteria, and viruses to invade the middle ear and ear drum.
Although ear infections aren’t contagious, other things that cause them are such as colds and the flu. Colds and others upper respiratory infections can cause the eustachian tubes also known as the auditory tubes to become inflamed and infected. If eustachitis occurs it causes fluid to build up behind the ear drum (serous otitis media), which causes the middle ear infection (acute otitis media).
Water that accumulates in the ear from swimming or baths can also cause an infection if left in the ear. Always dry out your baby’s ears after he has been in water. Use caution when cleaning and never stick anything in the ear canal. Only dry the outer ear where the water accumulates.
Cigarette smoke can also cause the eustachian tubes to become inflamed, making it harder for pressure to be equalized and may cause fluid to build up behind the ear drum. Always keep your child away from smokers and smoke of any kind. Child with allergies should try to stay away from pollen and outside dust because this can also cause problems with the ear drums and eustachian tubes
Chronic ear infections that recur again and again can cause serious damage to the ear drum and in some cases hearing loss. Children and adults with chronic ear infections may need surgery to repair damaged parts of the eardrum known as tympanoplasty or have damaged tissue on the ear drum removed to improve hearing also known as tympanectomy.
If any fluid has built up behind the ear drum and cannot drain by itself, a surgery may need to be performed to remove the built up fluid. A tiny puncture into the tympanic member (ear drum) will be made with a needle and tympanostomy tubes may be inserted into the ear drum to provide ongoing drainage of fluid to relieve pressure on the ear drum. This is the most common procedure performed on young children and is what is meant when “tubes” are placed in the ears.
There are different types of tubes that can be placed, some that fall out on their own after six months to two years and then the tiny hole in the ear drum will heal. In some cases larger tubes are needed and will have to be surgical removed after the child is clear of ear infections, the fluid is completely gone, and the ear drum has had time to heal.
It may be harder to tell if your baby has an ear infection since they have not yet learned to pull on their ears when they hurt. Sometimes an ear infection isn’t detected by parents until serious symptoms occur such as a high fever or drainage from the ear. If you notice your child showing any sign of discomfort when cleaning the outer ear, or behind the ear, take your child to the doctor. Ear infections can quickly become very serious.
Prescription antibiotics are usually given for five to ten days to unsure that the infection is gone. A shot of antibiotics may be given for serve infections. Ear drops can also be prescribed to help with the ear pain.Over the counter pain reliever may also be administered to help with pain or fever. If a fever continues for more than 24 hours after starting antibiotics your child may need to return to the doctor to ensure that the infection hasn’t spread or become more serious than firstly expected. Anyways make sure that your child finishes all the antibiotics to make sure that the ear infection doesn’t return.