Otitis Media, Its Causes and Symptoms
‘Otitis media’ and having an ear infection is not something you can disregard, especially if there is pain for a couple of days already. Seeing an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor is highly recommended, if untreated and disregarded, this may lead to total hearing loss. If there is an inflammation within the middle ear area, it is called otitis media.
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This is why most ENT doctors regard middle ear infections as acute ‘otitis media’. Other terms would be “otitis external” or “swimmer’s ear.”
Acute Otitis Media refers to the presence of fluid or pus within the middle ear area.
Symptoms include pain, a somewhat redness of one’s eardrum, and oftentimes, it is accompanied by fever.
Hence, there are more chronic types of ‘otitis media’ such as cases where the fluid inside the middle ear has been present for more than 6 weeks already.
Another would be instances where the fluid inside the middle ear area is only temporary and is not that infected. This is known as Otitis Media with Effusion.
It is essential for doctors to distinguish the type of Otitis Media infection to come up with the appropriate treatment option.
With the different varieties of middle ear infections, not all of them are treatable with antibiotics.
Causes of Acute Otitis Media
There are several reasons why people develop middle ear infections, especially kid’s ages 2 to 4 years old.
Some of the reasons are as follows:
Kid’s Eustachian tubes are more horizontal and shorter as compared to adults.
This makes them more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Hence, these tubes are also less stiff and narrower, making them more vulnerable to blockage.
Gland-like structures or Adenoids situated in the upper throat’s back portion, which is close to the Eustachian tubes, are larger in children.
This actually interferes with their Eustachian tubes opening.
Exposure to cigarette smoke.
Day Care attendance.
Ear infections are more common in boys than in girls.
This is doubled if the child’s family has a history of ear infections, and in the winter season when there are a lot of cases of colds and other respiratory tract infections.
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Otitis Media
If suspected with Acute ‘otitis media’, the signs and symptoms range from extremely mild to relentlessly severe:
Ear pain is caused by fluids inside the middle ear area pushing onto the eardrum.
In older kids, they will just complain of this ear ache.
When it comes to younger kids, they will act more irritably, and then, cry more.
A child has trouble sleeping or eats less.
This is since chewing, sucking and lying down causes painful pressure alterations inside the middle ear area. When the pressure of the fluid build-up becomes high enough, this causes the rupturing of the eardrum.
This can result to the drainage of fluids from one’s ear. Once the pressure at the back of the eardrum is released, it relieves the pain.
Temporary difficulties with hearing.
This is caused by fluid build-up inside the middle ear area which blocks the sounds.
In this case, a child will increase the volume of the radio or TV, become unresponsive to soft sounds, talk louder and become inattentive in school.
Cough or stuffy and runny nose.
Since ear infections are associated with infections in the upper respiratory tract, similar signs and symptoms are evident.
Other symptoms include nausea, fever, dizziness and vomiting.
When it comes to Otitis Media with Effusion, there are no apparent symptoms. However, for some kids, such fluids inside their middle ear area can create a somewhat “popping” or ear fullness sensation.
As compared to Acute ‘otitis media’, fluids at the back of the eardrum block the sounds, causing temporary and mild hearing loss.
Thus, even if an ear infection is not contagious, colds that usually lead to some types of ear issues are communicable.
Treating Acute Otitis Media
If you suspect that your child has an ear infection, you need to see an ENT doctor for diagnosis via a physical exam and medical history.
In examining the ear, ENT doctors use a small instrument called otoscope. It is like a small flashlight, enabling him to see one’s eardrum.
Since there is no regarded best approach when it comes to treating middle ear problems, doctors will only consider certain factors to manage the ear infection of a child.
Some of the factors include the severity and type of ear infection, the duration of the infection, the child’s age, the risk factors of the child and if the infection can affect the child’s hearing.
Since there are certain types of ear infections that heal on their own, most ENT doctors will suggest to “wait and see” before they treat the problem with antibiotics.
This is also due to some factors pertaining to antibiotic treatment such as its inability to help with a virus infection and its incapability to eliminate the fluids inside the middle ear area.
Aside from this, antibiotics can trigger some side effects, especially in children.
The most reasonable would be the fact that antibiotics are not good for the liver and it can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can be hard to treat.
Something that is getting a lot of good publicity these days is the use of liquid colloidal silver as a natural antibiotic so it might be worth checking out this natural remedy.
Make sure it is a true colloidal silver though.
Even if antibiotics are not prescribed to your child, you can still give Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen for the pain, especially if there is fever.
Most ENT doctors will also prescribe pain-relieving eardrops, but this is only if there is no indication of a ruptured eardrum.
Another natural cure for middle ear infection pain which has very good reviews and is claimed to have a success rate of over 85% is something called EFT.
Other conditions that can result in ear aches include teething, hard ear wax and foreign objects inside the ear.
It is still best that you see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The ear in our body is made of three main parts, i.e., outer ear, middle ear, and the inner ear.
All these parts of ear are at equal risk of getting an infection. When one part of the eye gets infected it can infect the other parts too.
The causes of a ruptured eardrum may include:
Middle ear infection media.
A pressure of fluid may cause your middle ear to burst when it is infected severely or the infection increases.
Ear infections are associated with several other ailments like toothache, middle ear infection, ear wax and allergies.
Teething in infants tends to cause earache but you should always be aware of ‘otitis media’.