Ear infections are very common in young children. Most infections clear up quickly and are rarely serious. Middle ear infections (otitis media) and outer ear infections are the most common types of ear infections in children (otitis external).
It may affect anybody, but children are more susceptible than adults. By their third birthday, five out of every six youngsters will have had at least one ear infection. The most common reason parents bring their child to the doctor is for this infection. Otitis media is the medical term for this infection (OM).
What causes this type of infection?
A bacterial or viral infection of the middle ear is known as an ear infection. This infection causes inflammation and fluid buildup within the ear’s interior spaces.
The middle ear is a hollow area behind the eardrum that is filled with air. It has vibrating bones that translate external sound into meaningful impulses for the brain. It is unpleasant because the inflammation and fluid buildup put pressure on the eardrum. It can be either acute or persistent. Chronic ear infections have the potential to permanently harm the middle ear.
Babies and young children are more highly susceptible to middle ear infections than older children because they have smaller tubes connecting the middle ear to the throat (called the Eustachian tubes). When your child has a cold, germs in the throat can spread to the middle ear and cause an infection. Infections spread more easily through smaller tubes, and it’s not rare for babies and toddlers to have various ear infections in a single year, sometimes as frequently as once a month.
How are these types of infections diagnosed?
The first question a doctor will ask you is about your baby’s health. Has your child recently had a cold or sore throat? Is he having trouble sleeping? Is she pulling her ears? If an ear infection appears likely, the easiest way for a doctor to tell is to examine the eardrum with a piece of a lighted instrument called an otoscope. Infection is indicated by a red, bulging eardrum. The doctor examines the eardrum with an otoscope, a small instrument comparable to a flashlight. A pneumatic otoscope, which blows a puff of air into the ear canal, may also be used by a doctor to examine fluid behind the eardrum. A normal eardrum will move fluids back and forth more freely than an eardrum.
If the diagnosis is still unclear, a doctor may perform tympanometry, a diagnostic procedure that uses sound tones and air pressure. Tympanometry is a small soft plug with a microphone and speakers, as well as a mechanism that varies the air pressure in the ear. It assesses the flexibility of the eardrum under different pressures.
If my child continues to suffer ear infections, what should I do?
To prevent a recurrence of a middle ear infection, minimize some of the factors that may put your child at risk, such as avoiding smoking and not sleeping with a bottle. Despite these precautions, some children may continue to develop middle ear infections, up to five or six times each year. Many doctors will propose a surgical treatment that installs a small ventilation tube in the eardrum to enhance airflow and prevent fluid backlog in the middle ear if the infections keep coming back and antibiotics aren’t helping. The most often used tubes are kept in place for six to nine months and require regular check-ups until they come out. If the tubes aren’t enough to keep infections at bay, a doctor may recommend removing the adenoids to keep the infection from spreading to the eustachian tubes.
How to avoid ear infections?
What can children do to avoid getting ear infections? You can avoid situations where people are smoking. Cigarette smoke might cause your Eustachian tubes to malfunction. You might also try to avoid catching colds. These steps can assist you: If at all possible, stay away from those who have colds. Hands should be washed frequently. Avoid touching your nose or eyes.