How Is It Treated
Most children will outgrow eustachian tube dysfunction as their immune systems strengthen and the structure of their ears mature. In the meantime, their comfort and ability to hear are important to maintain. Hearing problems can lead to;communication and learning;difficulties, and chronic infection put the structures of the ear at risk for damage.
Our treatment plans are tailored to the underlying cause of your childs eustachian tube dysfunction. For some, antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays to address allergies may be the best course of action. For others, exploring methods of draining the fluid could be best. Your childs ENT will go over the options and treatment goals with you.
Dont be surprised if your doctor doesnt prescribe;antibiotics;for every infection. Unless the infection is severe or unusually persistent, most will resolve on their own. Saving antibiotics for the worst cases ensures they stay effective for when we need them the most.
Chronic ear infection and pain is common in children, but its always difficult to see your child suffer. If you would like to discuss your concerns with a specialist, contact Pediatric ENT of Oklahoma today.
What To Do About Recurring Illnesses
Why your child may be prone to repeat bouts of colds, ear infections, strep throat, pneumonia, or other ailmentsand what you can do to help.
At 7 months, our daughter got her first ear infection. It lasted eight months. Eve screamed and wailed. She slept upright in a baby car seatwedged into her criband we plied her with bubblegum-pink antibiotics. The infection was a continuous loop, rebounding every time a prescription lapsed. The drugs bestowed thrush and diarrhea. Herbal remedies, massage, warm compresses, and eardrops didn’t budge the infection.
Neither did the specialist whom we begged for ear tubes. “Wait,” he counseled. Sure enough, one day it vanished, though I have no idea why.
Ear infections didn’t run in our families. Eve was in daycare, but a scrupulously well-scrubbed one. She was breastfed. Yet, somehow, the middle ear was her weak spotharboring a stubborn infection that frustrated and baffled us. It didn’t seem normal. But, it turns out, it was.
Dr. Kimberlin, who has three children of his own under the age of 6, has recently gained a new appreciation for the issue. “The number of normal sicknesses a child can have is astonishing,” he says. “That doesn’t make it any easier for the family, but it might reduce the worry.”
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.
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Cause Of Ear Infections
- A bacterial infection of the middle ear
- Blocked eustachian tube, usually as part of a common cold. The eustachian tube joins the middle ear to the back of the throat.
- Blockage results in middle ear fluid .
- If the fluid becomes infected , the fluid turns to pus. This causes the eardrum to bulge out and can cause a lot of pain.
- Ear infections peak at age 6 months to 2 years. They are a common problem until age 8.
- The onset of ear infections is often on day 3 of a cold.
- How often do kids get ear infections? 90% of children have at least 1 ear infection. Frequent ear infections occur in 20% of children. Ear infections are the most common bacterial infection of young children.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Very rarely, ear infections that don’t go away or severe repeated middle ear infections can lead to complications. So kids with an earache or a sense of fullness in the ear, especially when combined with fever, should be seen by their doctors if they aren’t getting better after a couple of days.
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What Are The Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
There are three main types of ear infections. Each has a different combination of symptoms.
- Acute otitis media is the most common ear infection. Parts of the middle ear are infected and swollen and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum. This causes pain in the earcommonly called an earache. Your child might also have a fever.
- Otitis media with effusion sometimes happens after an ear infection has run its course and fluid stays trapped behind the eardrum. A child with OME may have no symptoms, but a doctor will be able to see the fluid behind the eardrum with a special instrument.
- Chronic otitis media with effusion happens when fluid remains in the middle ear for a long time or returns over and over again, even though there is no infection. COME makes it harder for children to fight new infections and also can affect their hearing.
How Many Ear Infections Before Tubes Are Recommended
While ear tubes are not medically necessary, they can help relieve the pain of middle ear infections and make those infections easier to manage.
Your child’s doctor may recommend ear tubes if your child has:
- Hearing loss due to fluid build-up or
- More than 3 ear infections in 6 months or
- More than 4 ear infections in a year
Your child does not have to be a particular age for ear tubes. They may be infants or teens and still benefit from ear tubes.
But not all parents choose ear tubes for their children.
“It depends on the costs and benefits for each individual child,” says Dr. Liu. “If parents don’t like the idea of surgery and would rather wait for their child to grow out of ear infections, that is a reasonable approach as long as there are no other risk factors such as speech delay.”
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Signs And Symptoms Of Ear Infection In Teens
Ear infections can cause a sudden onset of symptoms. The common signs and symptoms of an ear infection include .
It may take three to six weeks for a complete cure since the fluid may remain in the ear even after the infection clears. However, most teens feel better from symptoms within 48 to 72 hours after medical care .
Symptoms Of Middle Ear Infection
A middle ear infection can be triggered soon after your child gets a cough or a runny nose. Symptoms and signs of ear infection in children can include:
- a raised temperature
- not feeding or eating well
- being sick
- a cough or runny nose
Older children may tell you that they cant hear properly and their ear feels blocked.
In some children, the eardrum bursts because of the pressure. If this happens you may see fluid or pus coming out of the ear. Although a burst eardrum sounds nasty, your child will probably feel better after it happens because their pain eases.
The symptoms of middle ear infection usually clear up on their own within three days. If youre concerned about your childs symptoms or if they get worse, contact your GP.
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Diagnosis Of Middle Ear Infection
Your GP will ask about your childs symptoms and about other illnesses they may have had. If they think your child has a middle ear infection, they may then look at their eardrum using an instrument called an otoscope. This is a small, handheld device which has a magnifying glass and a light.
In most cases, your GP will be able to diagnose a middle ear infection without further tests. If your child is under three months old, they may advise that you take them to hospital for further assessment.
Your GP may also recommend further tests or referral to a specialist if your child doesnt get better as expected. They might, for instance, suspect that your child has developed glue ear. This is when the middle ear remains blocked with fluid, which stops your child hearing properly.
Chronic Ear Infection In Children
However, some children seem to get ear infections a lot more often than others. The infections might last for longer or reappear very quickly. Sometimes the same infection persists, without responding to the normal treatments.
The most likely cause of persistent ear infection in children is chronic otitis media. Persistent ear problems in children often happen because there is a build-up of fluid in the inner ear. The Eustachian tube isnt draining this fluid properly. This often happens because there is an infection that isnt responding to normal treatments. Fluid can also remain in the middle ear or keep coming back after the infection has gone, which means that the symptoms will persist.
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Can You Still Get Ear Infections With Tubes
While ear tubes may reduce the number of ear infections, they don’t stop infections completely. If your child does get an ear infection, there will be ear drainage and antibiotic ear drops can treat the infection. Ear drops are more effective and have fewer side effects than oral antibiotics. Children with ear tubes can use these drops, a major benefit of ear tube surgery.
What Are Other Causes Of Ear Pain
Other causes of ear pain include:
- A sore throat.
- Teeth coming in in a baby.
- An infection of the lining of the ear canal. This is also called swimmers ear.
- Pressure build up in the middle ear caused by allergies and colds.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/16/2020.
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Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your childs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Treatment for an Ear Infection
Can You Prevent Ear Infections In Dogs
As with most diseases, prevention is always best. Excess moisture is a common cause of ear infections, so be sure to thoroughly dry your dogs ears after swimming and bathing. If your dog is prone to chronic or recurrent ear infections, identifying and managing any underlying causes such as allergies can help prevent new infections from occurring.
Cleaning your dogs ears at home can also help prevent ear infections.;Jeff Grognet, DVM, a columnist for;AKC Family Dog, advises the following steps for ear cleaning: First, fill the canal with a dog ear cleaning solution and massage the vertical ear canal from the outside. Wipe out the canal with absorbent gauze. Dont use paper towels or cotton because these may leave fibers behind, and those could cause irritation. Cotton swabs may also be useful for cleaning your dogs pinnae but avoid using them in the ear canal, which may inadvertently push debris deeper into the canal.
Ear infections are a common and often recurrent problem in many dogs, but, with your veterinarians help, you can keep your dogs ears clean and comfortable. If your dog is showing signs of an ear infection, seek treatment right away to ensure the problem does not become serious.
AKC is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to akc.org.;If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale.
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Why Is It More Common In Children
Childrens ears have the same basic structure as ours, but their eustachian tubes are narrower and straighter. This makes it difficult for fluid to drain. In severe cases, the fluid is so thick and sticky that it becomes its own type of blockage. This is called glue ear. The tubes are also shorter, making it easier for infections in the nose and throat to travel to the ear.
Additionally, children have developing immune systems and are more prone to infections. They catch more colds, causing more swelling and making it more likely fluid will collect in the ear. Once the fluid is there, its more likely theyll get a secondary infection.
In other children, swelling from lymph tissue called adenoids are to blame. The adenoids are located in the upper back of the throat, above the tonsils, and swell when exposed to germs. Some children experience chronic adenoid inflammation. The swelling can cover the opening to the eustachian tubes in the throat, and infection can travel straight from the adenoids into the middle ear.
Breastfeed For At Least Six Months
Long recognized as an immunity booster, breast milk can even protect children who are particularly susceptible to ear infections , according to a study at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. This protection probably lasts well after a child has stopped breastfeeding as well, according to experts.
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Can I Do Anything To Prevent Ear Infections In My Child
It is not easy to prevent ear infections, but the following may help reduce the risk:
- keeping your child smoke-free
- breastfeeding your baby for at least 3 to 6 months is thought to be protective against the early development of ear infections – this may be because breastfeeding boosts the infection-fighting system
When To Seek Medical Advice
Most cases of otitis media pass within a few days, so there’s usually no need to see your GP.
However, see your GP if you or your child have:
- symptoms showing no sign of improvement after two or three days
- a lot of pain
- a discharge of pus or fluid from the ear some people develop a persistent and painless ear discharge that lasts for many months, known as chronic suppurative otitis media
- an underlying health condition, such as cystic fibrosis or congenital heart disease, which could make complications more likely
Read more about diagnosing middle ear infections
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Why Does My Child Keep Getting Ear Infections Understanding Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Feb 28, 2017 | News
If youve ever heard your ears pop when youve yawned or swallowed, youve heard your eustachian tubes opening to allow air into your ear. This essential process occurs every time we swallow and chew, but were blissfully unaware of it until it hurts. Ear pain and eustachian tube dysfunction is more common in children. When it becomes chronic, you may need help from a specialist.
How Is An Ear Infection Treated
Treatment of ear infections depends on age, severity of the infection, the nature of the infection and if fluid remains in the middle ear for a long period of time.
Your healthcare provider will recommend medications to relieve you or your childs pain and fever. If the ear infection is mild, depending on the age of the child, your healthcare provider may choose to wait a few days to see if the infection goes away on its own before prescribing an antibiotic.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacteria are thought to be the cause of the ear infection. Your healthcare provider may want to wait up to three days before prescribing antibiotics to see if a mild infection clears up on its own when the child is older. If your or your childs ear infection is severe, antibiotics might be started right away.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended when to prescribe antibiotics and when to consider waiting before prescribing based on your childs age, severity of their infection, and your childs temperature. Their recommendations are shown in the table below.
American Academy of Pediatrics Treatment Guide for Acute Otitis Media
|in one or both ears||Mild for < 48 hours and temp < 102.2° F||Treat with antibiotic OR observe. If observe, start antibiotics if child worsens or doesnt improve within 48 to 72 hours of start of symptoms|
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Why Do Children Have So Many Ear Infections
If your child has frequent ear infections, you are not alone. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says it is the most common childhood illness for infants and young children. Ear infections occur most frequently between the ages of 3 months and 3 years, but are common until the age of 8. Five out of six children will have at least one ear infection before their third birthday and nearly 40% of children will have three or more ear infections before that age.
Why are ear infections so common?
Basically, ear infections are common because the tubes and spaces in childrens ears are so small. When a child gets a cold, sore throat or upper respiratory infection, bacteria from those illnesses can spread to the middle ear. The bacteria causes fluid to build up in the middle ear , it becomes infected, the eardrum becomes inflamed, and bingo, you have an ear infection.
The pathway that the bacteria takes to get to the ear is called the Eustachian tube. It runs from the top of the back of the throat to the ear and is designed to clear fluid from the ear. However, in infants and children, this tube is nearly horizontal so it fills up with fluid easily. As we age, the tube becomes more vertical, works more effectively and that is why the older we are, the fewer ear infections we get.
3 types of ear infections
Medically speaking, an ear infection is called Otitis Media and there are three types:
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What Can I Do For My Child Now
Do what you can for your childs pain and tears. In addition to giving him lots of TLC, you can give him pain relievers, or your doctor may prescribe pain-relieving ear drops. You may also want to talk with your doctor about getting your childs hearing tested; chronic ear infections or chronic fluid buildup in the ear can cause hearing problems, which in turn can cause speech delays.
Feed Your Baby In An Upright Position
When a baby drinks from a bottle while she’s flat on her back, the formula tends to pool in her mouth, increasing the chance for liquid to flow into the middle ear and cause infection. Breastfeeding is thought to be less risky because the nipple is farther back in a baby’s mouth, which prevents milk from pooling, and the flow of milk is more controlled and slower than it is from a bottle.
As a rule: When your child is drinking, her head should be higher than her stomach so the liquid can’t flow from the eustachian tube into the middle ear. If you’re bottle-feeding your baby, try to hold her as upright as possible while shes feeding and don’t allow her take a bottle to bed.
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When To See A Doctor
If your teen has severe ear pain or symptoms that last more than a day, then consult an otorhinolaryngologist . It is also good to see a doctor if your teen has a high fever and otorrhea . Speak to the doctor in case the teen experiences hearing loss before or during treatment . Early diagnosis and treatment can help avoid any complications.
Who Is At Higher Risk For Ear Infections
- Children less than 5 years old, because they have shorter eustachian tubes.
- Children who attend daycare, because they tend to have more colds.
- Children with allergies.
- Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke. Smoke causes inflammation of the eustachian tube, making ear infections more likely.
- Children who were not breastfed. Breast milk has antibodies that help fight infections.
- Babies who are being bottle fed, especially if they swallow milk while lying too flat. Milk can enter the eustachian tube and cause inflammation, which increases the risk of an ear infection. Children should be held upright while drinking a bottle. When they are old enough to hold their own bottle well, they should be taught to drink from a regular cup and no longer given a bottle.
- Children with cleft palates, as their eustachian tubes are often inflamed.
- Children of First Nations and Inuit descent, though its not clear why.
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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.