Signs of an Ear Infection
Children develop middle ear infections, or otitis media, more than adults do. Besides suffering uncomfortable symptoms, youngsters may experience hearing and speech problems with repeat infections, At Central Alabama ENT Associates in Montgomery, AL, your ENT doctors, Dr. Wallace Vaughan, Jr. and Dr. C. Elliott Morgan diagnose and treat otitis media so your child feels better.
Why it happens
Otitis media happens because of fluid build-up and bacteria behind the eardrum. Most young children have at least one of these infections before they even begin school, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
But, why are children more prone? Of course, kids' immune systems are still developing; so they get colds, flu, strep throat infections and yes, otitis media, easily. Crowded classroom conditions and daycare may contribute, too.
Additionally, children have short eustachian tubes, the drainage path between the middle ear and the throat. More horizontally oriented than in adults, the eustachian tubes collect bacteria and viruses, leading to infection.
Ear infection symptoms
Symptoms vary in severity, but your ENT doctors at Central Alabama ENT Associates in Montgomery, AL, recognize the following as the most common signs:
- The child pulls at his or her ear
- Insomnia or restless sleep
- Muffled hearing
- Ear drainage
- Poor appetite
- A bulging eardrum due to accumulated fluid
Left untreated, ear infections can harm hearing and lead to speech and learning delays in young patients.
Treating ear infections
Most cases of otitis media respond well to palliative treatment (Tylenol for fever and pain, rest and a warm compress to the affected side). Bacterial infections may require a course of oral antibiotics. Repeat infections subside with the surgical insertion of ear tubes. Also called ventilation tubes, these tiny devices keep ears free of fluid.
Also, prevention always is the best medicine. So, teach your child to hand wash frequently, and get him or her a flu shot at the pediatrician's office. With babies, breastfeeding confers passive immunity to many childhood illnesses.
At Central Alabama ENT Associates in Montgomery, AL, Dr. Vaughan and Dr. Morgan diagnose and treat ear infections and other chronic or acute conditions of the ear, nose and throat. Call (334) 277-0484 for a consultation with one of these experienced ENT doctors.