Ear Infections - Otitis Media

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Ear Infections - Otitis Media - Overview

An Ear Infection, which is also commonly known as acute otitis media is either a bacterial or a viral infection which affects the middle ear. Children are more prone to be affected with ear infections as compared to the adults. The infections can prove to be quite painful as it is accompanied with inflammation and the build-up of fluids in the middle ear.

In most of the cases, the infections can clear up on their own, but in other, rarer cases, medications and treatments may be needed in order to manage the pain.

Antibiotic medications are the most famous options which are given for the treatment of the ear infections.

Causes of Ear Infections

The major reason for the ear infection is the congestion of the nasal passages caused due to the infection in the middle ear caused by bacterium or virus. The swelling and inflammation in the Eustachian tubes due to an allergy can block the middle ear causing the accumulation of fluids. Ear infections are more common in children as their Eustachian tubes are narrower and more horizontal, which makes the fluid drainage very difficult.

Two of the major conditions which get related to ear infection are as follows:

Otitis Media:  This is caused due to the inflammation and the fluid build up in the middle ear. This build up of the fluid tends to persist even after the infection has been resolved.

Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media: This persistent ear infection results in the tearing or the perforation of the eardrum.

Symptoms of Ear Infection

In children, the signs and symptoms of the infection are as follows:

  •   Ear pain while lying down
  •   Tugging sensation in the ear
  •   Difficulty during sleeping
  •   Increased irritation
  •   Difficulty in hearing
  •   Headache
  •   Loss of balance
  •   Persistent fever
  •   Drainage of fluid from the ear

In adults, the symptoms are as follows:

  •   Ear Pain
  •   Drainage of the fluid from the ears
  •   Reduced hearing

It is recommended to consult a doctor immediately if the symptoms last for more than a day accompanied by severe pain. Also, if there is a discharge of blood, pus or fluid from the ear, then the condition should be dealt with severe medical attention.

Tests and Diagnosis of Ear Infections

The diagnosis of an ear infection can be easily made with the help of the basic symptoms. The doctor may use an otoscope in order to look down on the nasal passage, ears as well as the throat of an infected person.

A pneumatic otoscope can also be used in order to make the diagnosis of the infection. With the help of the otoscope, it becomes very easy for the doctors to puff the air against the eardrum.

Tympanometry is a test which is also used in order to measure the movement of the eardrum. This devise helps to seal off the ear canal and adjust the ear pressure. This instrument is also used in order to check how well the eardrum moves.

An acoustic reflectometry can also be done in order to check the build-up of the indirect measure of the fluids in the middle ear.

A tympanocentesis is performed with the help of a tiny tube which pierces the eardrum in order to drain all the fluid from the middle ear. This test is done in order to determine the causative agent in the fluid behind the infection.

Treatment of Ear Infections

Most of the ear infections tend to clear on their own, without the use of any antibiotics. Within a period of two weeks, the infection tends to clear out. However, antibiotics may be used in some cases. However, in order to manage the pain the doctor may recommend a pain medication such as Tylenol or Motrin. These drugs should be used as prescribed by the doctor. In many cases, eardrops such as Aurodex can also be used in order to provide relief from the additional pain.

Antibiotic therapy is provided so that a resistance to the bacteria can be maintained. In case of chronic infections, antibiotics are given in the form of eardrops. The treatment is monitored closely in case of children and a proper follow up with the doctor should be done. 

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