Paediatric Ear Infection

What is Acute Otitis Media?

Acute otitis media, often called a middle ear infection, refers to a condition where an infection occurs behind the eardrum in the middle ear.  Ear infections are painful and unpleasant, even more so for babies and toddlers. Children may even experience a loss of appetite due to the condition. 

What are its causes and concerns?

Acute otitis media is quite common among children, especially those under seven years of age. If left untreated, this illness can lead to painful and complicated consequences. 

Children face a higher risk of developing this condition because their eustachian tube (which drains fluid from the eardrum area) is short, soft and horizontal. In the event of an allergy or cold, the tube swells and fails to function properly. Due to the swelling, air cannot enter the middle section of the ear. As a result, the ear acts as a suction cup, pulling in fluid, which then becomes trapped in the middle ear, leading to the formation of bacteria and viruses, eventually causing an infection.

What are its symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of an ear infection are subtle in young children. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Irritability
  • Thick and yellow drainage from the ear
  • Pulling or tugging at the ear
  • Holding the ear or scratching it
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble hearing
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Ear pain

What are the solutions and treatment options?

There are some preventive measures that parents can take to help the child avoid an ear infection. These are:

  • Avoid going to places where there is cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke can block the tube going to the ear, causing an ear infection
  • Avoid exposure to germs – avoid prolonged exposure of the child to sick people; make washing hands a habit and abide by it yourself.

Paediatric ear infections may be treated at home, but more severe cases may require a doctor’s visit:

  • Home treatment – involves over the counter medication like Tylenol or Advil to provide relief from the pain and swelling. However, you must consult your doctor regarding the appropriate dosage of these medicines for your child. If the symptoms persist or are accompanied by a fever, it is best to take help from a healthcare professional.
  • Medical treatment – involves prescription antibiotics. Further tests may have to be conducted if the doctor feels that the child is extremely sick or risks developing more serious complications. If the child experiences persistent ear infections, the fluid in the ear may have to be surgically drained by inserting tubes into the ear.

In conclusion

Ear infections are painful, annoying. If left untreated, they may cause lasting damage to the child, like hearing loss. If you notice acute otitis media symptoms in your child, do not hesitate to book an appointment with us. Our caring paediatrician will evaluate your child’s condition and help him or her find relief from it.

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