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Otitis Media

Otitis Media is a common pediatric complaint. When a child has fever and tugs at the ears and has difficulty listening to quiet sounds, chances are that the child suffers infection or inflammation of the middle ear. Otitis Media occurs when there is inflammation in the middle ear brought on by sore throat, cold or other respiratory infections. Enlarged adenoids can also cause this type of inflammation. Children are more likely to suffer this condition since they have a shorter eustachian tube and therefore the middle ear is more susceptible to infection. An inflamed eustachian tube blocks ventilation to the middle ear. Consequently the fluids from the middle ear tissues begin to accumulate. When the fluids accumulate, the eardrum and middle ear bones cannot vibrate freely and hearing is impaired. It can also lead to severe ear pain. An affected child is likely to experience dizziness and vomiting. Bottle-fed infants are more at risk for otitis media than breast-fed ones.

Often the condition clears within a few days. But it is not prudent to leave the infection unattended lest it travel to other parts of the head. Besides constant fluid accumulation within the middle ear can hamper hearing and consequently the speech and language development of the child. A physician uses an otoscope to examine the outer ear and the eardrum. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat the bacterial infection that causes middle ear infection. Amoxicillin or ampicillin, erythromycin, cefaclor or trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole are the antibiotics that are usually prescribed. Ear drops are also used. But the antibiotics may not help in viral infections and don't help in elimination of middle ear fluid too. Accumulated middle ear fluid may take a few weeks to disappear. Children who are susceptible to Otitis Media must wear ear plugs while showering and bathing.

Otitis Externa

Otitis externa is an inflammation of the skin lining of the ear canal. This condition typically happens when there is water in the ear due to showering or swimming. Otitis externa can also occur due to any object being put into the ear canal. Bacteria or fungi develop in the dark and warm ear canal. Otitis externa can be the result of over zealous cleaning of the ears. It can remove the protective wax layer. Conditions such as diabetes or psoriasis can also aggravate otitis externa. Otitis media occurs when the infection is in the middle part of the ear.

A person affected by otitis externa will experience pain and itching in the ear. There might be a discharge from the ear and hearing might be reduced. There might be vertigo and tinnitus. There may be tenderness and redness around the ear. A doctor will examine the ear for any inflammation and discharge. The ear will be cleaned of any pus or discharge. Suctioning is used to cleanse the ear canal. The ear can can be swabbed to identify the organisms causing otitis externa.

The doctor may prescribe ear drops or a course of antibiotics to treat the infection. These medications can reduce inflammation and restore the ear to normal pH balance. Painkillers are prescribed to reduce the pain caused by otitis externa.

  • Keep your ears dry
  • Use swimming cap or hood while surfing or swimming

Inappropriate Use of Antibiotics

Primarily the antibiotics - the group of drugs intended to inhibit or destroy bacteria, should be used only against bacterial infection. Antibiotics are not effective viral infections and most upper respiratory tract infections like influenza or common cold or fungal infections caused by yeast. Some Infections listed below can be treated usually without antibiotics:

  • Influenza (commonly called as flu)
  • Common Cold
  • Bronchitis - with or without Coughs
  • Otitis media Ear Infections
  • Many Skin Rashes
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 18, 2018