Ear Infections in Children
Ear infections are generally caused by bacteria, leading to a fluid build up in the ear behind the eardrum. After cold, ear infections are the most commonly diagnosed illness in children. There are three main types of ear infections which are scientifically known :
- Acute Otitis Media (AOM)
- Otitis Media with Effusion (OME)
- Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion (COME)
Causes of Ear Infection:
The ear is made up of 3 parts – outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections occur in the middle ear. In order to function properly, the middle ear should have the same pressure conditions as the outside world. The Eustachian tube ensures this. This tube is a small passage that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat right behind the nose. The Eustachian tube also allows for the drainage of mucus from the middle ear into the throat.
At times during a cold or an allergy, the Eustachian tube gets blocked by congestion in its lining or by mucus deposit. The blockage then leads to fluid getting collected within the middle ear and this becomes a breeding ground for bacteria or viruses.
Symptoms of ear infection:
The usual symptom will be pain in the ear. Sometimes the pain will be associated with fever. A child may pull or rub the ear but babies can’t tell where the pain is coming from and hence just cries and will seem uncomfortable. In certain type of infections, there will be no symptoms at all and the doctor will be able to see the fluid behind the eardrum with a special instrument.
How an ear infection is identified in Children:
Look for these in a child:
- Crying and being fussy
- Pulling or rubbing the ear frequently
- Trouble sleeping
- Fluid drainage from the ear when infections get severe
Treatment of Ear infection:
Doctors generally inquire about the child’s health and ask several questions to understand the problem. If an ear infection is confirmed, she might prescribe for an antibiotic. Pain in the ear can be due to other reasons as well, hence if they are not sure about an infection they will ask to wait for a couple of days before starting on antibiotics. Antibiotics for an ear infection should be taken exactly as prescribed and for the full course. Normally within a few days the child will feel better. If the problem persists for several days, you should get in touch with your child’s ENT specialist.