Ear infection is the inflammation of the inner, middle or outer ear which is usually caused by viruses or bacteria. It occurs when any fluids are accumulated in the back of the eardrum. Everyone is prone to ear infection, but mostly children fall prey to them. Nearly five out of six children suffer from ear infections before their third birthday. Ear infection is the main reason why most of the parents take their children to doctors. The ear infections are classified into three types.
- Acute Otitis Media
- Otitis Media with Effusion
- Otitis Externa or swimmer’s ear.
Acute Otitis Media
Acute Otitis Media in short AOM is a painful ear infection which is caused due to the inflammation of the middle ear (the rear part of the eardrum). If you observe following symptoms in children, then it means that they are suffering from AOM.
- Infants-intense crying fits of fuzziness.
- Toddlers-Clutching the ear when they are crying in pain.
- Older Children-mentioning the pain in the ear.
Symptoms and Causes of AOM
- Crying and irritability
- A headache
- Ear pain and neck pain
- Fever and vomiting
AOM occurs when the Eustachian tube present in the ear is swollen or blocked. The reasons for the blockage of the Eustachian tube are
- Cold or flu
- Inhaling the cigarette smoke
- Drinking water while laying down
ENT specialists prescribe painkillers and eardrops in this situation. Antibiotics are also recommended in case of a persistent problem. If it fails to provide relief from the infection, then the surgery is prescribed.
Otitis Media with Effusion
The clogging of Eustachian tube in children is the main reason for OME. It is very common for children as their ears have smaller Eustachian tubes with more horizontal orientation. OME isn’t precisely an ear infection, but it can be related to it. The clogged Eustachian tube provides an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow and cause an infection.
As stated earlier the OME can’t be mainly referred as an ear infection, but it may cause mild pain that varies with the age of the children. Tugging or pulling ears and hearing problems can be seen in younger children.
Most of the times, OME gets cleared up by itself, but there are some instances where it becomes mandatory to visit an ENT specialist. Ear tubes are used to drain the fluid from the back of the ear.
The skin lining present in the outer ear is broken allowing the fungi or bacteria to invade the ear canal. The break in the skin may be caused due to various reasons like improper cleaning of ears, using cotton-tipped swabs, scratching the ear area, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis. When the skin is broken, the bacteria or fungi assault the ear causing pain and various other symptoms
- Difficulty in hearing
- Draining Pus or Fluids
- Ringing in the ear
- Blockage of the ear canal
Medications prescribed by a doctor for the relief of pain and to clean the affected ears are also a part of medical procedures. Sometimes anti-inflammatory agents, antibiotics, antiseptic and acidifying agents are also prescribed by doctors for Swimmer’s ear.
Ear-infections are common health conditions amongst children. Though these infections are painful and scary, consulting an ENT specialist at the right time helps to get relief from the pain and avoids the infection.