We tend to overlook our ears, and signs are usually disregarded. Hence, these symptoms may signal serious concerns. And if unattended, it may cause more harm. It is why you should know what signs to look out for. In this article, you will find out and understand more about Otitis media. It is also called a middle ear infection. Also, you will find out the list of common causes and signs. Continue reading to know more. Otitis Media is an illness in the middle ear. Most cases begin with infections that cause colds and sore throats.
Otitis media can happen in both ears at the same time. It may be acute or chronic. However, this condition is not usually serious. But, symptoms will last only for a short time. Also, it comes with ear effusion. It is the build-up of fluid behind the eardrum. Ear effusion may cause temporary and mild hearing loss. Unlike this illness, a chronic middle ear infection will last longer. However, symptoms will stay for three months or more. The fluid build-up remains in the eardrum before resolving it. Also, the storage of the fluid for a long time can tear the eardrum. While most eardrums can heal itself, some cases may require surgery.
1. Causes of Otitis Media
- The eustachian tube is the one that balances the pressure between the outer ear and the middle ear. Infection in this tube causes middle ear infection. It will then lead to fluid build-up behind the eardrum. This fluid will attract bacteria and viruses when not drained.
- Cold or allergy. It can cause the lining of the nose, throat, and the Eustachian tube to swell.
- Respiratory infection
- Irregular Eustachian tube
- Block in adenoids. Adenoids are tissues that you can find at the back of the nose. It has a role in immune system activity.
2. Signs of Otitis Media
The following are the most common signs of middle ear infection:
- Fluid from the ear. Look out for white, yellow, or brown fluid. It can mean that the eardrum has torn.
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty in hearing. The middle ear has nerves that send signals to the brain. Hence, the signals will not reach the brain soon if there is an infection.
- Pain in the ear(s)
3. Acute Otitis Media in children
A middle ear infection is common among children. They may experience it more than adults. It is because of the structure of their developing ears. Therefore, their Eustachian tubes are shorter and have a lesser curve. Tubes can easily clog. Their adenoids are also larger than adults. Children may have difficulty talking about what they feel. Parents should lookout for the following signs:
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Easily annoyed
- Tugging or pulling at ear(s)
- Does not want to eat
- Crying more than usual
4. Risk Factors
The following may even increase the child’s risk of middle ear infection
- Family history of ear infection. Native Alaskan children are more likely to have a middle ear infection.
- Weak immune system
- Absence of Nursing. Breast milk contains antibodies. These are important for immune system development.
- Bottle feeding while lying on the back. Do not position the feeding bottle upright when the baby is lying down. It is better to hold the baby while feeding.
- Too much exposure to smoke from a cigarette. Smoke can irritate the child.
- Daycare. Children in group settings are exposed to infections like the common cold. It increases their chance of getting a middle ear infection.
- Congenital disability. Children with a cleft palate or Down syndrome are more likely to get ear infections.
Acute otitis media usually goes away on its own. Parents do not need to worry much. Management of symptoms is the goal of treatment. Also, a doctor may give medication to clear up the bacteria. These drugs can cure allergies. Be wary about it and consult with a doctor first. If the pain is too much, contact a doctor soon.
Moreover, if signs do not go away, call a health specialist as prevention is better than looking for a cure. Teach your kids proper hygiene. Remind them to wash their hands always. Do not forget to clean their toys too. Middle ear infections do not spread through contact. However, look out for playmates who have a common cold. They may expose your child to an ear infection.