Otitis media

Other names: Ear infection (middle ear)

DEFINITION

An ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection affecting the middle ear, causing pain due to inflammation and Fluid buildup. While most cases resolve on their own, severe infections may require antibiotics to prevent complications like hearing problems.

SYMPTOMS

CAUSES

Ear infections result from bacteria or viruses in the middle ear due to congestion and swelling of nasal passages and eustachian tubes. Narrower and more horizontal eustachian tubes in children make them more prone to these infections.

RISK FACTORS

Age, group child care, infant feeding practices, seasonal factors, and poor air quality can increase the risk of ear infections.

COMPLICATIONS

Complications include impaired hearing, speech delays, spread of infection to nearby tissues like mastoiditis or even the brain, and tearing of the eardrum.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Be prepared to discuss symptoms with your doctor and answer questions about pain, discharge from the ear, hearing impairment, recent illnesses, allergies, and past ear infections.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and an exam using a lighted instrument called an otoscope. Additional tests like tympanometry or tympanocentesis may be done if needed.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Most ear infections resolve without antibiotics. Pain management with warm compresses or medication is common. Antibiotics may be prescribed for moderate to severe cases. In recurrent infections, ear tubes may be recommended.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Preventive measures include hand hygiene, avoiding secondhand smoke, breastfeeding infants for at least six months, proper bottle-feeding techniques, and discussing vaccinations with your doctor.


QUESTIONS

  1. What are common symptoms of an ear infection in children?

Ear pain, difficulty sleeping, fever

  1. When should you see a doctor for an ear infection?

If symptoms last more than a day or if there is severe ear pain

  1. What can increase the risk of developing an ear infection?

Age, group child care attendance, poor air quality

  1. How are ear infections diagnosed?

Through symptoms assessment and physical examination using an otoscope

  1. What are potential complications of untreated ear infections?

Impaired hearing, speech delays, spread of infection to nearby tissues

  1. When are antibiotics typically prescribed for an ear infection?

For moderate to severe cases or recurrent infections

  1. What lifestyle changes can help prevent ear infections?

Hand hygiene, avoiding secondhand smoke, proper feeding practices

  1. What is the role of eustachian tubes in the development of ear infections?

Narrower and more horizontal tubes in children can lead to fluid accumulation

  1. How are chronic suppurative otitis media treated?

With antibiotic drops and instructions on fluid suction

  1. Why are regular follow-up appointments important for children with persistent ear issues?

To monitor progress and assess hearing and language development