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Middle ear infection (otitis media)

Written By northidahodpc

Middle ear infection (otitis media)

November 15, 2011

Ear infections hurt!  Most children under 6 years of age will get at least one ear infection, with the most common source of infection located behind the eardrum (otitis media).  Symptoms include crying, pulling on the painful ear, irritability, difficulty feeding and increased pain when laying down, which makes sleep difficult.

Children have a higher rate of otitis media than adults because the pressurization canal between the ear and the back of the nose, known as the eustachian tube, is shorter and more horizontal.  This difference makes drainage more difficult when a child gets a cold, leading to fluid back up in the ear, allowing it to get more easily infected.  Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke, are not immunized, attend daycare, were born prematurely, use a pacifier, go to bed with a bottle, have a history of allergies with nasal congestion or have a personal or family history of ear infections seem to have a higher rate of otitis media.  Boys have more of a problem with this infection than girls.

Treat pain and fever with acetominophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).  A warm heating pad to the affected ear can help decrease pain, and the physician can prescribe pain reducing ear drops if there is no drainage.  Antibiotics are frequently recommended after examination, although the physician may suggest otherwise in older children who have milder cases.  Recurrent or persistent infection/fluid often affects hearing, which can lead to speech delay.  In these cases, the physician will often recommend PE tubes, which allows drainage to occur and increased pressure to normalize…Richard R Samuel, MD     Family Practice and Urgent Care

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