March 2020 - Children ear infection
Ear infections are very common in small children. Most infections get better quickly and are not usually serious. The two types of ear infections often seen in children are middle ear infections (otitis media) and outer ear infections (otitis externa). Most ear infections involve the middle ear.
Every time a middle ear infection happens, fluid collects behind the ear drum. This fluid usually slowly clears by itself, but children who get frequent infections may have fluid stay behind the eardrum for longer. This is called glue ear. Glue ear may last for many weeks or months, making it harder for your child to hear. Occasionally, glue ear can temporarily affect language development.
What causes an ear infection?
Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses. Many times, an ear infection begins after a cold or other respiratory infection. The bacteria or virus travel into the middle ear through the eustachian tube (there’s one in each ear). This tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. The bacteria or virus can also cause the eustachian tube to swell. This swelling can cause the tube to become blocked, which keeps normally produced fluids to build up in the middle ear instead of being able to be drained away.
Adding to the problem is that the eustachian tube is shorter and has less of a slope in children than in adults. This physical difference makes these tubes easier to become clogged and more difficult to drain. The trapped fluid can become infected by a virus or bacteria, causing pain.
The symptoms of middle ear infection:
- Ear pain: This symptom is obvious in older children and adults. In infants too young to speak, look for signs of pain like rubbing or tugging ears, crying more than usual, trouble sleeping, acting fussy/irritable.
- Loss of appetite: This may be most noticeable in young children, especially during bottle feedings. Pressure in the middle ear changes as the child swallows, causing more pain and less desire to eat.
- Irritability: Any kind of continuing pain may cause irritability.
- Poor sleep: Pain may be worse when the child is lying down because the pressure in the ear may worsen.
- Fever: Ear infections can cause temperatures from 100° F (38 C) up to 104° F. Some 50% of children will have a fever with their ear infection.
- Drainage from the ear: Yellow, brown, or white fluid that is not earwax may seep from the ear. This may mean that the eardrum has ruptured (broken).
- Trouble hearing: Bones of the middle ear connect to the nerves that send electrical signals (as sound) to the brain. Fluid behind the eardrums slows down movement of these electrical signals through the inner ear bones.
When should a parent suspect an ear infection?
A parent should suspect an ear infection when a child becomes ill with fever, is irritable, and usually complains of pain in the ear. Many children who develop ear infections will first have colds. However, ear pain can be caused by other problems, such as a sore throat, without an ear infection.
What is our treatment for an ear infection?
EARDOC™ generates and transmits vibration waves to the middle ear and the Eustachian tube. The waves travel through the mastoid bone to middle ear and open the clogged Eustachian tubes, allowing drainage of accumulated fluids in the middle ear and relieving the associated ear pain. Draining the fluids and air accumulated in the middle ear reduces the pain, heals the inflammation, and brings quick and effective relief.