The Ear Tube Controversy
While ear tubes do have their place in treating recurrent ear infections, there does exist some controversy over their use. The advantages are listed above, but some common concerns about tubes are:
- Some doctors may be too quick to recommend ear tubes before exhausting all other preventative measures or before allowing enough time to allow the ears to clear up without surgery.
- As with any surgery, there are risks to general anesthesia.
- The tubes often leave a little scar covering approximately one-sixth of the eardrum. This scar is often permanent. There does not seem to be any long-term consequence of this scarring, but were not completely sure. Please note that recurrent ear infections with or without eardrum rupture can also lead to scarring.
- Please note that ear tubes dont always prevent ear infections. Some children will still get as many infections even with the tubes in, but the fluid drains out right away.
- Many children benefit from ear tubes, parents declaring their child is a new person The ear infections are gone, hearing has improved, no more sleepless nights with a crying child, no more endless courses of antibiotics.
- A general indication for tubes are chronic ear fluid for more than four to six months, more than three ear infections in six months, or more than five in one year. You and your doctor should decide together when it is the right time for ear tubes for your child.
How Is An Acute Middle Ear Infection Treated
Many doctors will prescribe an antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, to be taken over seven to 10 days. Your doctor also may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or eardrops, to help with fever and pain.
If your doctor isnt able to make a definite diagnosis of OM and your child doesnt have severe ear pain or a fever, your doctor might ask you to wait a day or two to see if the earache goes away. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines in 2013 that encourage doctors to observe and closely follow these children with ear infections that cant be definitively diagnosed, especially those between the ages of 6 months to 2 years. If theres no improvement within 48 to 72 hours from when symptoms began, the guidelines recommend doctors start antibiotic therapy. Sometimes ear pain isnt caused by infection, and some ear infections may get better without antibiotics. Using antibiotics cautiously and with good reason helps prevent the development of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics.
If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, its important to make sure your child takes it exactly as prescribed and for the full amount of time. Even though your child may seem better in a few days, the infection still hasnt completely cleared from the ear. Stopping the medicine too soon could allow the infection to come back. Its also important to return for your childs follow-up visit, so that the doctor can check if the infection is gone.
Where Is The Middle Ear
The middle ear is behind the eardrum and is also home to the delicate bones that aid in hearing. These bones are the hammer , anvil and stirrup . To provide the bigger picture, lets look at the whole structure and function of the ear:
The ear structure and function
There are three main parts of the ear: outer, middle and inner.
- The outer ear is the outside external ear flap and the ear canal .
- The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. The middle ear houses the delicate bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This is where ear infections occur.
- The inner ear contains the snail-shaped labyrinth that converts sound vibrations received from the middle ear to electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain.
Other nearby parts
- The eustachian tube regulates air pressure within the middle ear, connecting it to the upper part of the throat.
- Adenoids are small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids help fight infection caused by bacteria that enters through the mouth.
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What Happens If My Child Keeps Getting Ear Infections
To keep a middle ear infection from coming back, it helps to limit some of the factors that might put your child at risk, such as not being around people who smoke and not going to bed with a bottle. In spite of these precautions, some children may continue to have middle ear infections, sometimes as many as five or six a year. Your doctor may want to wait for several months to see if things get better on their own but, if the infections keep coming back and antibiotics arent helping, many doctors will recommend a surgical procedure that places a small ventilation tube in the eardrum to improve air flow and prevent fluid backup in the middle ear. The most commonly used tubes stay in place for six to nine months and require follow-up visits until they fall out.
If placement of the tubes still doesnt prevent infections, a doctor may consider removing the adenoids to prevent infection from spreading to the eustachian tubes.
Childhood Ear Infections Explained
Ear infections happen when there is inflammation usually from trapped bacteriain the middle ear, the part of the ear connects to the back of the nose and throat. The most common type of ear infection is otitis media, which results when fluid builds up behind the eardrum and parts of the middle ear become infected and swollen.
If your child has a sore throat, cold, or an upper respiratory infection, bacteria can spread to the middle ear through the eustachian tubes . In response to the infection, fluid builds up behind the eardrum.
Children are more likely to suffer from ear infections than adults for two reasons:
- Their immune systems are underdeveloped and less equipped to fight off infections.
- Their eustachian tubes are smaller and more horizontal, which makes it more difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear.
“In some cases, fluid remains trapped in the middle ear for a long time, or returns repeatedly, even when there’s no infection,” Tunkel explains.
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Ear Infection In Babies: Causes Treatments And Prevention
Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.
One of the hardest things about raising a child is that during the early years, it can sometimes be hard to tell what is wrong with a baby. They can cry and scream so you know that something is wrong, but they cant tell you exactly what is wrong, so it requires some investigation.
If your baby has an ear infection for example, how do you tell what is actually wrong with your child? And once you figure out thats the reason your baby is upset, what can you do about it? In this article well cover how to recognize an ear infection in babies, what treatments are available, and answer questions like, Are are ear infections contagious in babies? This is your beginners guide to ear infection in children.
Should You Limit Your Childs Activities During An Ear Infection
Thereâs no reed to limit your childâs activities during an ear infection unless they have a fever. In that case, itâs best to keep them home from day care or school. Otherwise, they can attend while recovering from the ear infection. Just be sure to let the child care director or school nurse know of your childâs ear infection and how the prescription medicine should be administered.
Some antibiotics may need to be refrigerated, so itâs a good idea to check that the child care center or school has a refrigerator where it can be safely stored. Make sure the medicine is labeled with your childâs name and dosage instructions.
If your baby or toddler participates in swimming, it may be OK for them to swim while recovering from an ear infection as long as they donât have drainage from the ear or a perforation in the eardrum. You may want to clear this with the healthcare provider first.
If you need to travel by airplane with your baby or toddler, know thatâs itâs OK for your baby to travel while recovering from an ear infection. However, they may experience pain from the pressure. This can be remedied by nursing your baby or offering them a pacifier, as the sucking and swallowing can ease any discomfort.
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What Causes Ear Infections In Babies
Ear infections, medically known as acute otitis media, are infections of the middle part of the ear. They are caused by either a viral infection or a bacterial infection. These infections cause fluid to build up in the middle ear, as well as inflammation. In some cases, the eustachian tubes show signs of infection as well.
Adults can get ear infections, too, but babies and young children are most prone to them, especially children under the age of three. Five out of six children will have had an ear infection by the time they turn three,and 25% of children will experience repeat ear infections.
The reason babies and young children are more prone to ear infections include:
- Babies ear passages are different than adults: they are shorter, narrower, and more horizontal in orientation
- Babies are more likely to get colds and other viruses, which make them more prone to ear infections
- Babies immune systems are less developed than adults, so their reactions to virus are usually more intenseleading to complications such as ear infections
Baby Ear Infection Treatment Tips
Once diagnosed, treating ear infections in babies and children is a relatively simple process. The first step in dealing with ear infections is to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from your doctor. More than likely, the doctor will prescribe one of the following treatments, depending on the type and severity of the ear infection.
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How To Prevent Ear Infections
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following to help prevent ear infections in children:
- Avoid exposing your child to secondhand smoke or air pollution
- Make sure children are up to date on their immunizations
- Breastfeed babies for 12 months or more
- Bottle feed babies in an upright position
S To Prevent Ear Infections
If your child has had several ear infections already, or you simply wish to lower their risk of getting ear infections in the first place, here are some ways to prevent or at least lessen the frequency and severity of ear infections:
There is no doubt whatsoever in the medical literature that prolonged breastfeeding lowers your childs chances of getting ear infections.
2. Daycare setting
Continuous exposure to other children increases the risk that your child will catch more colds, and consequently more ear infections. Crowded daycare settings are a set up for germ sharing. If possible, switch your child to a small, home daycare setting. This will lower the risk.
3. Control allergies
If you think allergies are contributing to your childs runny nose and, consequently, ear infections, click on allergies to find out more about how to minimize your childs allergies.
4. Feed your baby upright
Lying down while bottle-feeding can cause the milk to irritate the Eustachian tube which can contribute to ear infections.
5. Keep the nose clear
When a runny nose and cold start, do your best to keep the nose clear by using steam, saline nose drops and suctioning. Also, try Xlear® nasal spray which contains xylitol that can help prevent viruses and bacteria from attaching in your childs nose. See colds for more info on clearing the nose.
6. Cigarette smoke
This is an herb that can safely and effectively boost the immune system. Read for more information.
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Protect Him From Secondhand Smoke
Living with secondhand tobacco smoke can increase your child’s risk for ear infections by up to 50 percent! Studies show that the particles in tobacco can congest the tube in the inner ear. This congestion prevents the tube from being able to drain fluid and sets a child up for an ear infection. Even if you only smoke outdoors, your baby can be exposed to those dust particles from your hair or your clothing.
What Will Happen At The Doctors Office
If your doctor thinks your baby may have an ear infection, they will certainly examine your babys ear canal, but they will also likely look at other possible symptoms.
Heres what will happen during the visit:
- Your doctor will ask you what viral or infection symptoms your baby has had recently.
- Your doctor will ask you what symptoms your baby has been experiencing, and will check your babys vital signs.
- Your doctor will take your babys temperature.
- Your doctor will listen to your babys lungs for signs of respiratory distress.
- Your doctor will examine the inside of your babys ears.
Heres what an examination of your babys ear canals may entail:
- Your doctor will view your babys middle ear using an instrument called an otoscope. They will be looking for signs of redness and inflammation. Babies usually dont like this, but the procedure is not painful.
- If your doctor wants to check for fluid buildup in the ear, they will use a pneumatic otoscope. This will blow a small amount of air inside your babys ear. This is not harmful or painful, but again, your baby may not like it very much.
- If neither of these procedures offer your doctor a definite answer, they may use a tympanometer to examine your babys ear. This uses air pressures and sound tones to measure the pressure inside your babys ear.
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What Are The Types Of Ear Infection
There are four types of ear infections.
When Do Children Need Tubes In Their Ears
If your child has frequent ear infections, or if he has trouble hearing because of ongoing fluid in the middle ear, he may need a tube inserted through the ear drum and into the middle ear. The tube helps to keep air pressure normal on both sides of the ear drum and helps fluid drain from the middle ear.
Putting tubes in requires a brief operation by an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Children usually go home the same day.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Otitis Media
Symptoms of ear infection include:
- Ear pain: This symptom is obvious in older children and adults. In infants too young to speak, look for signs of pain like rubbing or tugging ears, crying more than usual, trouble sleeping, acting fussy/irritable.
- Loss of appetite: This may be most noticeable in young children, especially during bottle feedings. Pressure in the middle ear changes as the child swallows, causing more pain and less desire to eat.
- Irritability: Any kind of continuing pain may cause irritability.
- Poor sleep: Pain may be worse when the child is lying down because the pressure in the ear may worsen.
- Fever: Ear infections can cause temperatures from 100° F up to 104° F. Some 50% of children will have a fever with their ear infection.
- Drainage from the ear: Yellow, brown, or white fluid that is not earwax may seep from the ear. This may mean that the eardrum has ruptured .
- Trouble hearing: Bones of the middle ear connect to the nerves that send electrical signals to the brain. Fluid behind the eardrums slows down movement of these electrical signals through the inner ear bones.
How To Prevent Ear Infection In Babies And Toddlers
Between 6 months old and 1 years old, my son had a chronic runny nose problem, that turned into ear infection multiple times. Those were hard times. I do not wish stuffy nose and congested upper respiratory system on any baby. Every time his nose started to run again, I tried every possible method, tip, and trick to prevent it from turning into an ear infection. This is a list of all the advice, I was given by our pediatrician and nurses and read on the reference websites on the internet.
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Tests For Middle Ear Infection
The GP will look carefully at the inside of your childs ear using an instrument called an otoscope.
The GP might also do a tympanometry. This test measures how much your childs eardrum can move, and it can help the GP work out whether the ear is normal. Its usually a painless test that takes just a couple of minutes.
If your child has had several ear infections, or if your doctor thinks there might be a chronic infection or glue ear, the doctor might organise a hearing test. Your child can have a formal hearing test at any age.