OTITIS MEDIA (MIDDLE EAR INFECTION)
Otitis media is an inflammation of middle ear cavities. Otitis media symptoms include headaches, pus discharge and fever. Otitis media treatment aims to eradicate the infection and relieve the symptoms. Below we are going to review in more detail causes of this condition, as well as otitis media treatment and diagnostics services.
The middle ear is a small space behind the ear drum where vibrations are detected and transmitted to the inner ear by the tiny bones. This is a well-ventilated area where air moves from behind the nose and through the small channel known as the Eustachian tube which keeps the middle ear clean and dry.
Otitis media is an ear infection which is the most common cause of earaches, though this infection is mostly associated to children causing infant distress, it also occurs in adults.
HOW DOES OTITIS MEDIA (OME) DEVELOP?
Otitis media is a middle ear infection which often occurs with respiratory infections such as common cold, flu and other types. This is so because the middle ear is connected to the upper respiratory tract by the Eustachian tube, the germs that grow as a result of this are allowed to climb up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear and start multiplying.
WHO IS PRONE TO OTITIS MEDIA (OME)?
Children are more prone to OME due to the shape of their ear tubes which are shorter and the smaller openings. As a result of this, children are fully at risk to clogging and infection, due to their age their immune systems may not be fully developed thereby making it hard to fight off ear infections leading to OME.
OTITIS MEDIA SYMPTOMS
Symptoms of OME in children include:
- Inability to sleep
- Unusual crying
- Increased irritability
- Constant pulling of the ear
- Pain in the ear especially while lying down
- Difficulty in hearing and responding to sounds
- Loss of balance
- Loss of appetite
- Drainage of fluid from ear
Symptoms of OME in adults include:
- Ear pain
- Reduced ability to hear
- Drainage of fluid from ear
OTITIS MEDIA TREATMENT OPTIONS
The major aim in the treatment of any ear infection is to cure the infection, relieve any pain that may occur, prevent any development of a future infection and any other symptom. The treatments that can be used for ear infection include:
- Antibiotics: For this form of medication, it is advised that the child completes the course so as to ensure full recovery. The antibiotic mostly prescribed is the amoxicillin but not in cases with those who are allergic to penicillin in which other options are considered. However, children who are treated with antibiotics are prone to vomit, have diarrhea or even develop a rash.
- Ear drops: In cases where there is a recurrence of ear infection, damaged ear drum or experience infections after placement of ear tubes, antibiotic ear drops are prescribed instead for use over a period of months. Anesthetic ear drops may also be prescribed by the doctors if ear tubes are not in place or there is no drainage from the ear in the child.
- Pain and fever medication: Over-the-counter oral medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen could be used in the medication of ear infection. Children under the age of 19 should not be allowed to use aspirin so as to prevent the development of a rare but serious disease known as Reye Syndrome.
- Drainage Tubes: The insertion of drainage tubes may be suggested by the doctor if the child experiences recurring rear infections which fail to clear up after the use of antibiotics or there is a buildup of fluid which affects hearing. This method of treatment is surgical procedure which involves the use of general anesthesia; a small drainage tube is inserted through the ear drum by the surgeon.
This drainage tube lets the fluid behind the ear drum be released which results in the equalization of pressure between the middle and outer ears. This leads to the improvement of hearing in the child, as the child grows older, the inserted tubes will be released on its own and the drainage hole heals. If the ear infection persists after the age of 4, the doctor may suggest the removal of the child’s tonsils.
DIAGNOSING OTITIS MEDIA (OME)
- Medical History and Physical Examination: For accurate diagnosis of the condition, questions will be asked by the doctor on if ear infections have been experienced previously and the description of the current symptoms. After the questions have been asked, the ear will be inspected using an otoscope to look for signs of infection like redness of the ear, presence of fluid or air bubbles (which may contain blood or pus) and also signs of tearing in the eardrum.
- Tympanometry: This is carried out using a small handheld instrument which is used to measure air pressure changes in the ear, they can also be used to determine if the eardrum has been ruptured.
- Reflectometry: This is done by placing a small instrument near the ear which makes sound, this allows the doctor determine the presence of fluid behind the eardrum.
- Audiogram: A hearing test can also be carried out in soundproofed room to block out external noise. Sounds are transmitted by an audiologist who would be listened to by the patient and signaling by pushing a button to signal hearing a sound. The results gotten from this exam are plotted on an audiogram.