Middle Ear Infections
When it comes to having good hearing and looking after yourself, there are many issues that can arise with your hearing and your ears. There are a number of infections that can affect people’s hearing and one of the most common ear infections is a middle ear infection, especially amongst younger children. While anyone can suffer from an ear infection at any age in life, it is said that the majority of ear infections occur in children aged between 6 and 18 months. It also seems, and as of yet the reason for this is unclear, but male children are more likely to suffer from this form of ear infection than girls.
As a parent, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, and therefore know that your child may be suffering from a middle ear infection. Some of the symptoms will overlap with the symptoms from a number of other illnesses so it is not always a perfect indicator of what your child is suffering from. However, recognising these symptoms quickly will enable you to seek proper medical assistance as soon as possible.
Parents should be on the lookout for their child rubbing, tugging or pulling at their ear. They should also be on the lookout for children showing signs of irritation and having a temperature higher than 38°C. Other potential symptoms for children suffering from a middle ear infection include having a runny nose, coughing, being poor at feeding, feeling restless throughout the night and being unresponsive to softly spoke words or quiet sounds. This last symptom is one that is more closely related to the hearing aspect and this symptom, alongside the child suffering from a loss in their balance, is likely to be the clearest indication that they are suffering from a middle ear infection.
While a lot of middle ear infections will clear up quickly without a child having to be referred to a medical practitioner, it is advised to see medical assistance if the symptoms do not clear up after a day. Visiting a GP is also advised if the child is in a lot of pain or if there are fluids coming from the ear. The same guidelines should be considered if it is an adult suffering from these symptoms. Any fluid coming from the ear is an indicator that all is not well and should be taken as a sign that a visit with an experienced medical practitioner is on order. It may be that the middle ear infection is liable to clear up on its own but there is no harm in having it professionally checked out. If there are signs that the infection is lasting or it is an indicator of a more concerning health issue, your GP is likely to recommend you visit a specialist ear, nose and throat doctor. In the vast majority of cases concerning this type of infection, this will not be the case but it is important to be aware that it may be a decision that some doctors decide to take.
Treatments For Middle Ear Infections
Given that most middle ear infections clear up within a number of days, there is not much need for medication. If you are experiencing pain, it may be that Paracetemol or Ibuprofen can provide pain relief from the infection by reducing the level of pain felt and by controlling high temperatures more effectively. If you have a young child suffering from this form of infection, make sure that you are giving them pain relief that is suitable for their age range. This is an area where many parents will feel more comfortable in receiving professional medical help and guidance. In more serious cases of middle ear infection, it may be that antibiotics will be used to control the pain and suffering that is being experienced.
What Are The Causes?
The middle ear is found right behind the ear drum and it contains three tiny bones that are essential in bringing sound vibrations from the eardrum in to the inner ear area. When it comes to the causes of a middle ear infection, it is believed that the majority of cases are caused by a viral infection or through bacteria. It is very common for an infection of the respiratory tract, which includes the lungs, throat and sinuses to be the case of an infection of a middle ear. This means that simple ailments such as the cold or the flu can have an impact on the middle ear.
The biggest reason why young children suffer from this sort of condition more than adults is down to the fact that their middle ear is narrower and a lot smaller than adults. This means that it is more likely that an infection will have an impact on them.
Parents with young children should be aware that there are many factors that will increase the likelihood of your children suffering from a middle ear infection. A child that attends a nursery or attends at a day care centre is likely to be more at risk of this form of infection. This is down to the fact that mingling with more children increases the likelihood of picking up an infection. Children who have not been breastfed and children who experience passive smoking are also more likely to run the risk of a middle ear infection.
Complications From Middle Ear Infections
While it is not very common for a middle ear infection to cause complications, if complications do occur, they can be difficult and troublesome. In some circumstances, the infection can spread down into bones which are located beneath the ear, and this is referred to as mastoiditis. In other more limited cases, the infection can make its way into the membranes which protect the spinal cord and brain, which is referred to as meningitis. These instances are rare but it is of benefit to keep an eye on your child to ensure that the symptoms for a middle ear infection pass quickly.