Did you know that among children, ear infections (also known as ottis media) are one of the most common illnesses that antibiotics are prescribed for? While adults can certainly get ear infections, too, children are particularly at risk of getting ear infections since their ears often don’t allow adequate air flow in the middle ear area. When there isn’t adequate air flow in the middle ear, pressure can build up, resulting in an infection.
Studies have shown that 80 percent of children will get some kind of middle ear infection before their third birthday -- 25 percent of children will have repeated ear infections. There are also some factors that might put you at higher risk:
- Premature birth
- Going to daycare
- Exposure to smoke
- A family history of ear problems
- Sex -- boys are more susceptible to ear infections than girls
- Getting frequent colds
- Having allergies
- Having any chronic illness, especially respiratory diseases like cystic fibrosis or asthma
Symptoms of Ear Infections
Does your child have an ear infection? They might if they display any of the following symptoms:
- Hearing loss
- Ear pain
- Pressure in the head, often resulting in loss of appetite
- Poor sleep
- Involuntarily fluid drainage in the ear
- Picking, pulling, or digging at the ears
After Your Appointment
If your child has a middle ear infection, treatment via antibiotics is often the first course of action. In instances in which antibiotics don’t clear up the symptoms of the infection in three months or less, an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist can help you consider interventions such as ventilation tubes, which can be up to 85 percent effective in preventing chronic ear infections.
After treatment, whether symptoms go away or not, you’ll want to schedule a follow-up appointment within 3 to 4 weeks -- we’ll make sure the infection is on its way out through some simple hearing tests and exams.
If an ear infection is left untreated, it may result in a number of undesirable long-term consequences, such as:
- Scarring of the eardrum
- Permanent hearing loss
- Mastoiditis (Infection of the skull)
- Meningitis (infection around the brain and spinal cord tissue)
- Speech development issues
- Facial paralysis
Please reach out to Laurel ENT and contact us today if you, or your child, are experiencing current or chronic ear infections. Our specialists are available and ready to help address this serious health issue.