What Causes A Middle Ear Infection
There are a number of reasons why children get middle ear infections. They often stem from a prior infection of the respiratory tract that spreads to the ears. When the tube that connects the middle ear to the pharynx is blocked, fluid will collect behind the eardrum. Bacteria will often grow in the fluid, causing pain and infection.
There are a variety of symptoms associated with middle ear infections. Some of the most common are:
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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|
How To Heal An Ear Infection Naturally
Your body is created with the ability to heal itself of everything from a bacterial ear infection to heart disease and even cancer. You have an immune system that is fearfully and wonderfully designed to kill dangerous bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells. And you have a nervous system that controls and coordinates the whole process.
Ultimately, an ear infection is an indication that something is interfering with your bodys innate ability to heal itself. So, the first step to healing is to identify and remove this interference. This interference to normal healing commonly occurs in these areas:
Your Nervous System Your nervous system controls all health and healing in your body. If there is interference in the nerves controlling your immune system, then you will not be able to heal normally.
Toxicity Toxicity also interferes with every area of your bodys normal functioning. This includes your immune response. Toxicity comes from refined sugar, chemicals in processed and fast foods, unhealthy fats, MSG in everything and medications just to name a few! Read The Top 10 Toxins that are Poisoning Your Kids for more on the issue of toxicity.
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Treating Outer Ear Infections
The outer ear should be carefully cleaned. That should be followed by the application of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory medications on your ear.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if your doctor determines that the infection is bacterial.
If the infection is fungal, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication.
If you have a viral infection, you may simply need to tend to the irritation on your ear and wait for the infection to resolve itself. Depending on the type of virus involved, more specialized treatment may be necessary.
To help prevent an ear infection of any kind, follow these tips:
- Make sure you dry your ears completely after swimming or taking a shower.
- Try quitting smoking, and limit or avoid secondhand smoke when possible.
- Manage your allergies by avoiding triggers and keeping up with allergy medications.
- Wash your hands thoroughly, and try to limit contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory problems.
- Make sure your vaccines are up to date.
What If My Ear Infection Doesnt Go Away After Antibiotics
If you or your child finish your course of antibiotics, but it seems like the ear infection hasnt gone away, make an appointment with your doctor. Theyll help figure out whats going on and what to do next. Theres a chance that your doctor may prescribe a different type of antibiotic to see if it works better.
Its also possible that the infection is gone but the symptoms arent. This can happen if theres still fluid trapped in the ear, causing a plugged-up feeling, pain or hearing loss. Most of the time the fluid in ears drains within a couple of weeks, but sometimes it sticks around longer.
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When Else Are Antibiotics Needed
Antibiotics can be the right treatment for kids who get a lot of ear infections. Their doctors might prescribe daily antibiotics to help prevent future infections. And younger children or those with more severe illness may need antibiotics right from the start.
The “wait-and-see” approach also might not apply to children with other concerns, such as cleft palate, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, or other illnesses such as immune system disorders.
What Are The Causes Of My Dogs Ear Infections
Several factors can predispose your dog to developing ear infections, such as genetics, lifestyle and sensitivity to allergens.
Some dog breeds, e.g. those with droopy ears, are at higher risk of developing ear infections, as these ears trap moisture.
A dog who lives in a very rainy environment, or who loves to bathe, will also develop more ear infections, for the same reason as mentioned above.
Humidity is the number one enemy of a dogs ears!
A dog with allergies is also prone to getting more ear infections, as the immune system is busy fighting allergens.
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Always Start With The Good Ear First
If your cat only has an ear infection in one ear, it is important to just clean the healthy ear first and then clean and medicate the infected ear. Only the infected ear should be medicated.
Since infection can spread between ears, be sure to wash your hands and use new supplies after touching each ear, and dont go back to the other ear. If youre using gloves, put on a new glove when you switch ears. This is a good rule even if both ears are infected.
Response To Antibiotic Treatment
Your child’s symptoms, including fever, should improve within 48 to 72 hours after beginning antibiotics. If symptoms do not improve it may be because a virus is present or the bacteria causing the ear infection is resistant to the prescribed antibiotic. A different antibiotic may be needed.
In some children whose treatment is successful, fluid will still remain in the middle ear for weeks or months, even after the infection has resolved. During that period, children may have some hearing problems, but eventually the fluid almost always drains away.
If your child fails to improve and middle ear fluid remains, your doctor may recommend consultation with an ear, nose, and throat specialist . This specialist may perform a tympanocentesis procedure in which fluid is drawn from the ear and examined for specific bacterial organisms. But this is reserved for severe cases.
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Middle Ear Infections In Children
Acute Otitis Media
An inflammation in the middle ear is known as “otitis media.” AOM is a middle ear infection caused by bacteria in the middle ear fluid trapped by a Eustachian tube that is not working well. AOM may develop during or after a cold or the flu. With AOM:
- Middle ear infections are extremely common in children younger than 3. But they are infrequent in adults.
- In children, ear infections often recur, particularly if they first develop in early infancy.
- AOM symptoms improve within 48 to 72 hours with or without antibiotic treatment in most children. There does not appear to be any risks of complications for at least the first 2 to 3 days.
- Even after symptoms subside, fluid may persist in the middle ear for weeks to months after AOM onset.
Otitis Media with Effusion
OME occurs when fluid, called an effusion, becomes trapped behind the eardrum in one or both ears. In chronic and severe cases, the fluid is very sticky and is commonly called “glue ear.” With OME:
- Fluid is present. But there is no infection.
- There is usually no pain. Sometimes the only clue that it is present is a feeling of stuffiness in the ears, which can feel like “being under water.”
- Hearing may be temporarily impaired in children. But most children will not have long-term hearing loss.
Chronic Otitis Media
Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media
In some severe cases after eardrum rupture, perforation may lead to ongoing discharge, which is pus-like. This drainage is often called otorrhea. When this happens, the bacteria involved are most commonly P. aeruginosa or S. aureus. This infection may also spread into the mastoid bone and usually requires injectable antibiotic treatment and sometimes surgery.
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How Long Do Ear Infections Last
Severe symptoms usually last for less then one to two days. If such symptoms last longer than one to two days, then it is important to consult with a doctor.
If symptoms do not go away and are left untreated, they can lead to complications and in rare cases more serious health issues
After an ear infection clears up, fluid may remain in the middle ear and cause some of the more mild symptoms and can persist for several weeks to months. This condition is diagnosed as otitis media with effusion.
What Are The Possible Complications From An Ear Infection
It is common for some fluid to remain behind the eardrum after the infection clears. This may cause dulled hearing for a while. This usually clears within a week or so and hearing then returns to normal. Sometimes the mucus does not clear properly and glue ear may develop. Hearing may then remain dulled. Repeated ear infections can lead to glue ear. See a doctor if dulled hearing persists after an ear infection has gone, or if you suspect your child is having difficulty hearing.
If the eardrum bursts then it usually heals over within a few weeks once the infection clears. In some cases the perforation remains long-term and may need treatment to fix it.
If a child is normally healthy then the risk of other serious complications developing from an ear infection is very small. Rarely, a serious infection of the bone behind the ear develops from an ear infection. This is called mastoiditis. Very rarely, the infection spreads deeper into the inner ear, brain or other nearby tissues. This can cause various symptoms that can affect the brain and nearby nerves, including abscess and meningitis. You should always consult a doctor if a child with earache:
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Ear Infection Symptoms Treatment
Middle ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection that may cause earache, temporary hearing loss, and fluid discharge. A middle ear infection that does not clear up on its own may require treatment with antibiotics.
Middle ear infections occur mainly in early childhood, although older children and adults also get these kinds of infection. The incidence of acute ear infection in New Zealand children was recently estimated at 27%. A complication associated with middle ear infections is the retention of fluid, causing glue ear. Children should always be taken to a doctor if they have earache.
What Are The Treatments For Ear Infections
If your pediatrician recommends antibiotics, shell usually start with amoxicillin, an effective and safe antibiotic for bacterial infections that is one of the most commonly prescribed for young children. Whether or not your doctor opts for antibiotics or a watch-and-wait approach, rest and fluids are key as with any childhood respiratory infection or virus.
For pain relief at home, your pediatrician will usually recommend Acetaminophen for babies under 6 months and Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for children 6 months and older. Remember that according to the CDC, over-the-counter cough medicines should not be given to children under 4 and should only be given to older children with your doctors approval. Recent research has shown that the negatives of these OTC medicines often outweigh any benefits.
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Kidney Infection Risk Factors
Anyone can get a kidney infection. But just as women get more bladder infections than men, they also get more kidney infections.
A womanÃ¢s urethra is shorter than a manÃ¢s, and itÃ¢s closer to their and . That means itÃ¢s easier for bacteria or viruses to get into a womanÃ¢s urethra, and once they do, itÃ¢s a shorter trip to the bladder. From there, they can spread to the kidneys.
Pregnant women are even more likely to get bladder infections. This is because of hormone changes and because a baby puts pressure on the motherÃ¢s bladder and ureters and slows the flow of urine.
Any problem in your urinary tract that keeps pee from flowing as it should can raise your chances of a kidney infection, such as:
- A blockage in your urinary tract, like a kidney stone or enlarged prostate
- Conditions that keep your bladder from completely emptying
- A problem in the structure of your urinary tract, like a pinched urethra
- Vesicoureteral reflux , which is when pee flows backward from your bladder toward your kidneys
YouÃ¢re also more likely to get an infection if you have:
- A weakened immune system, as with type 2 diabetes
What Happens If An Ear Infection Is Left Untreated
Fluid buildup in the ear can be damaging even if theres no infection and may lead to a ruptured eardrum and hearing loss. So, its important to see the doctor if symptoms remain after finishing the antibiotics. Theyll likely want to take a look in your ear and learn more about your symptoms.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may recommend you see an ear, nose and throat doctor. The ENT doctor may recommend surgery to place small metal or plastic tubes in the ear canal to make it easier for the fluid to drain out. Your doctor may also recommend ear tube surgery for your child if they have recurrent ear infections.
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Do Ear Infections Always Need To Be Treated With Antibiotics
Many parents bring their children with ear infections to Express Care, Urgent Care and even the Emergency Department to request antibiotics. But, sometimes, antibiotics arent the right choice. Most ear infections cure themselves without the help of antibiotics.
“An ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection that affects the ear. It becomes painful when buildups of fluid and inflammation occur in the air-filled space behind the eardrum,” says Leanna Munoz, Mayo Clinic Health System nurse practitioner. “Signs and symptoms of infection often quickly show.”
Munoz says a great way to tell if your child has an ear infection is if he or she starts showing the following symptoms:
- Pain in the ear, especially while lying down
- Pulling or tugging the ear
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty hearing or responding to sounds
- Fever or headache
Generally, an ear infection will improve within the first couple days and clear up within one to two weeks without any treatment. It is recommended to use the wait-and-see approach for:
- Children age 6 to 23 months with mild inner-ear pain in one ear for less than 48 hours and a temperature less than 102.2 F
- Children age 2 and older with mild inner-ear pain in one or both ears for less than 48 hours and a temperature less than 102.2 F
How Is Otitis Media With Effusion Diagnosed
If you think your child may have otitis media with effusion, make an appointment your childs doctor. He or she will look in your childs ears. They will look at the eardrum for signs that there may be fluid behind it. They may order a test called tympanometry. It can diagnose otitis media with effusion. It can also help tell the amount and thickness of the fluid that is trapped. They may also want to do a hearing test on your child.
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When To Call A Doctor
Ear pain often gets better in 2 or 3 days on its own or with home care. Often all you need to do is take a pain reliever and be alert for symptoms that get worse. That said, itâs important to know when your discomfort might be a sign of something more serious.
- You have a high fever, headache, or are dizzy.
- You believe an object is stuck in your ear.
- You see swelling behind your ear, especially if that side of your face feels weak or you canât move the muscles there.
- Youâve had severe ear pain and it suddenly stops .
- Your symptoms donât get better in 24 to 48 hours.
Living With An Ear Infection
If your child suffers from several ear infections each year, youll want to look out for symptoms every time they have a stuffy nose or congestion.
Never stick anything in your childs ear to relieve the pain of an ear infection, to remove the tubes or remove a foreign object. See your childs doctor to have it removed.
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