Fighting childhood ear infections
Next to the common cold, ear infections are the most commonly diagnosed childhood illness in the U.S. According to http://www.kidshealth.org more ,than three out of four children have had at least one ear infection by the time they reach the age of three. Almost half of these children will have three or more ear infections during their first 3 years. Aside from being very common, ear infections can be among the most painful illnesses a child can have. While they can happen at any time of the year, they are much more likely to occur during cold and flu season. When a baby is suffering from an ear infection, they may show symptoms such as ear tugging or pulling, crying, problems with feeding, trouble sleeping, and fever. It also is possible that he or she may have fluid draining from the ear, sometimes even blood-tinged. Children who are around people who smoke are at a very high risk of getting ear infections. Additionally, if they have had previous ear infections or have a family history of ear infections it can increase their risk. A child who was premature at birth or had a low birth weight and children in daycares may also be at a higher risk. Ear infections also occur more commonly in boys than girls. If you suspect your child has an ear infection, you should call your pediatrician as soon as possible. Depending on the severity, an antibiotic may be prescribed.
Causes of middle ear infections
Otitis media is another name for an infection or inflammation of the middle ear. To clarify, otitis media is commonly referred to as an ear infection even though in many cases there may be no infection present. Ear inflammation often begins when infections that cause sore throats, colds, or other respiratory problems spread to the middle ear area. These infections can be viral or bacterial (bacterial can be treated with antibiotics), but sometimes other causes, such as fungal infection, are to blame. According to the website (http://www.healthychild.com), the four main causes of ear infections are:
3. Mechanical obstruction
4. Nutritional deficiency
Why children have more ear infections than adults
Children suffer from ear infections more than adults due to developing immune systems and shorter, straighter Eustachian tubes (the small passageway connecting the upper part of the throat to the middle ear). This allows bacteria and viruses to get into the middle ear more easily. Children’s tubes are also narrower and not as stiff, making them more prone to blockage. Although otitis media is most often a disease of infants and young children, it also can affect adults and can be a chronic and complex problem.
Treating ear infections
In most cases, ear infections will get better without antibiotic treatment. However, there are certain signs that a parent should watch for and if these things occur, the child should immediately be seen by a doctor. These signs include high fever, listlessness, stiff neck if the child is old enough to move his/her head, and abnormal mental function. Recent medical research has shown that antibiotics often make very little difference in the recovery from an ear infection, yet they are usually prescribed to children with this ailment, according to http://www.healthkids.com When .treating an ear infection in an otherwise healthy child, it is reasonable to wait three or four days and see if he or she will improve without antibiotics. After four days, if the infection has not gone away, antibiotics may make a difference. It is important to note that if a child has allergies and continues to be exposed to an allergen, or if the main cause of the ear infection is not resolved, infections are likely to recur.
While it is most often a last resort, there are some cases where a physician may recommend surgery to help with persistent ear infections. That procedure is called myringotomy, which is the opening of the eardrum to relieve pressure and allow drainage of the fluid. This could require inserting tympanostomy tubes, more commonly known as ear tubes. During general anesthesia, a tiny tube is inserted into the eardrum, keeping open a small hole that allows air to get in so fluids can drain more easily down the eustachian tube. Ask your physician for more information on these procedures.