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Ear Infections in Children : Overview

What is an ear infection?

An ear infection is an inflammation of the center 
ear, usually caused by bacteria, that happens when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Anyone can get an ear infection, but children get them more often than adults. Five out of six children will have a minimum of one ear infection by their third birthday. In fact, ear infections are the foremost common reason parents bring their child to a doctor. The scientific name for an ear infection is otitis.


What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

There are three main types of ear infections. Each has a different combination of symptoms.


Ø     Acute otitis media (AOM) is the most common ear infection. Parts of the center ear are infected and swollen and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum. This causes pain within the ear—commonly called an earache. Your child might also have a fever.

Ø     Otitis media with effusion (OME) sometimes happens after an ear infection has run its course and fluid stays trapped behind the eardrum. A child with OME may have any symptoms, but a doctor is going to be ready to see the fluid behind the eardrum with a special instrument.

Ø     Chronic otitis media with effusion (COME) happens when fluid remains in the center ear for a long time or returns over and over again, even though there is no infection. COME makes it harder for youngsters to fight new infections and can also affect their hearing.


How am i able to 
tell if my child has an ear infection?

Most ear infections happen to children before they’ve learned the way to 
talk. If your child isn’t sufficiently old to mention “My ear hurts,” here are a couple of things to seem for:


Ø  Tugging or pulling at the ear(s)

Ø  Fussiness and crying

Ø  Trouble sleeping

Ø  Fever (especially in infants and younger children)

Ø  Fluid draining from the ear

Ø  Clumsiness or problems with balance

Ø  Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds


What causes an ear infection?

An ear infection usually is caused by bacteria and sometimes 
begins after a toddler features a pharyngitis , cold, or other upper respiratory tract infection . If the upper respiratory tract infection is bacterial, these same bacteria may spread to the center ear; if the upper respiratory tract infection is caused by an epidemic , such as a cold, bacteria could also be drawn to the microbe-friendly environment and enter the center ear as a secondary infection. Because of the infection, fluid builds up behind the eardrum.

The ear has three major parts: the external ear 
, the middle ear, and therefore the internal ear . The external ear , also called the pinna, includes everything we see on the outside—the curved flap of the ear leading right down to the earlobe—but it also includes the ear canal, which begins at the opening to the ear and extends to the eardrum. The eardrum may be a membrane that separates the external ear from the center ear.

The internal ear 
contains the labyrinth, which help us keep our balance. The cochlea, a neighborhood of the labyrinth, may be a snail-shaped organ that converts sound vibrations from the center ear into electrical signals. The acoustic nerve carries these signals from the cochlea to the brain.
Other nearby parts of the ear can also be involved in ear infections.


The Eustachian tube may be a small passageway that connects the upper a part of the throat to the center ear. Its job is to provide fresh air to the center ear, drain fluid, and keep atmospheric pressure at a gentle level between the nose and therefore the ear.

Adenoids are small pads of tissue located behind the rear 
of the nose, above the throat, and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids are mostly made from system cells. They repel infection by trapping bacteria that enter through the mouth.


Why are children more likely than adults to urge 
ear infections?

There are several reasons why children are more likely than adults to urge 
ear infections.

Eustachian tubes are smaller and more level in children than they are 
in adults. This makes it difficult for fluid to empty out of the ear, even under normal conditions. If the eustachian tubes are swollen or blocked with mucus thanks to a chilly or other respiratory disease, fluid might not be ready to drain.

A child’s immune system isn’t as effective as an adult’s because it’s still developing. This makes it harder for youngsters 
to fight infections.

As a part of the system, the adenoids answer bacteria passing through the nose and mouth. Sometimes bacteria get trapped within the adenoids, causing a chronic infection which will then expire to the eustachian tubes and therefore the tympanic cavity.


How does a doctor diagnose a tympanic cavity 

The first thing a doctor will do is ask you about your child’s health. Has your child had a cold 
or pharyngitis recently? Is he having trouble sleeping? Is she pulling at her ears? If an ear infection seems likely, the only way for a doctor to inform is to use a lighted instrument, called an otoscope, to seem at the eardrum. A red, bulging eardrum indicates an infection.

A doctor also may use a pneumatic otoscope, which blows a puff of air into the auditory meatus , to see for fluid behind the eardrum. A normal eardrum will withdraw and forth more easily than an eardrum with fluid behind it.
Tympanometry, which uses sound tones and atmospheric pressure , may be a diagnostic assay a doctor might use if the diagnosis still isn’t clear. A tympanometer may be a small, soft plug that contains a small microphone and speaker also as a tool that varies atmospheric pressure within the ear. It measures how flexible the eardrum is at different pressures.



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