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Ear infections

An ear infection happens when bacteria or virus affects the middle ear which is the part of your ear just behind the eardrum. There is fluid build-up, swelling and redness, mostly caused by the common cold or allergies. Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections.

Possible Causes:

Bacteria or virus cause an ear infection in the middle ear. 

Possible ear infection causes include:

  • Inflammation of the nasal passages, throat and Eustachian tubes due to cold, flu or an allergy.
  • Fluid build-up in the middle ear due to congestion blocking of the Eustachian tubes. This fluid can become infected and cause the symptoms of an ear infection.
  • Swelling of the adenoids may also block the tubes. 

Risk Factors:

Those who are at a higher risk:

  • Children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years, as their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
  • Children who attend day care as they are exposed to more infections, such as the common cold.
  • Uneven bone structure and muscles in children who have cleft palates.
  • Babies who drink from a bottle.
  • Seasonal allergies.
  • Air pollution.

Signs & Symptoms: 

Signs and symptoms in children are different from those seen when there are ear infections in adults.

  • Some symptoms in children are ear pain, trouble sleeping, crying, difficulty in hearing or responding to sounds, loss of balance, fever, headache, loss of appetite and fluid dripping from ear.
  • Adults have ear pain, hearing loss and fluid draining from infected ear. 

Diagnosis: 

For a proper diagnosis of an ear infection, visit the ENT clinic at Medcare. The diagnosis considers your symptoms and a physical examination of ears, throat and nasal passage. 

Doctors use an instrument called a pneumatic otoscope which helps them diagnose an ear infection. Diagnosis helps to understand what type of ear infection is present and whether it is an outer or middle or inner ear infection.

Other tests to confirm that there is a middle ear infection are: tympanometry, acoustic reflectometry, or tympanocentesis which can be helpful if previous treatments have been unsuccessful. Other tests: children may be referred to an audiologist, a speech therapist or for tests of language comprehension or developmental abilities.

Treatment Options: 

At Medcare, an ENT specialist will prescribe the right treatment based on the kind of ear infection. The different types of ear infection are:

  • Acute otitis media if there is fluid in the middle ear.
  • Otitis media with effusion means there is fluid in the ear but no symptoms of infection yet. 
  • In chronic suppurative otitis media, a long-term ear infection has resulted in perforation of the eardrum. 
  • The treatment includes pain medication and antibiotics for ear infection relief.

Only in chronic cases will the ENT specialist recommend a surgery. This is a minor surgical procedure called a myringotomy, where our surgeon creates a tiny hole in the eardrum to drain out fluids from the middle ear. 

A tympanostomy tube is placed in the opening to help open the middle ear and prevent more fluid from collecting. 

FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • What are the health risks of getting ear infections frequently?

    A: People who often have ear infections may experience some hearing loss. In small children this may affect their speech. Untreated infections can spread to nearby tissues or the ear-drums may tear.

  • What preventive measures should I take to prevent my children from getting ear infections?

    A: Inculcate the habit of washing hands frequently in your children. It is also best to avoid sharing of eating and drinking utensils with other children. Make sure that no one smokes in your home. 

    Breast milk contains antibodies that offer protection from ear infections, so breastfeed your baby for at least six months. Hold your baby in an upright position while bottle-feeding. Seasonal flu shots, pneumococcal and other bacterial vaccines may help prevent ear infections.

  • What is a tympanometry?

    A: A tympanometry is a test that measures the movement of the tympanic membrane, commonly called ear-drum. Tympanometry is used to diagnose disorders causing hearing loss. The air pressure in the ear is varied to cause the tympanic membrane to move. These movements are measured and recorded on a graph called a tympanogram. The test takes only a few minutes.

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