We Provide Solutions for Ear Infections in Children
The anatomy of a child's ear, paired with an immune system than is naturally weaker than that of an adult's, makes children especially prone to ear infections. At Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat, we provide comprehensive pediatric care, including treatment for ear infection, also called otitis media.
Many children have recurrent ear infections that require specialized long-term care to understand and treat the underlying causes of the condition. Whether your child has developed his or her first ear infection or has been suffering on a recurring basis, we can provide relief. If you are interested in learning more about how we treat ear infections in children, contact our Baltimore, MD-area practice today to schedule an appointment.
What Causes Ear Infections in Children?
The ear has three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Ear infections develop in the middle ear, the part of the ear responsible for maintaining balance and transmitting sound vibrations to the inner ear. Your child may develop an ear infection after having a sore throat, cold, or other respiratory infection. A bacterial respiratory infection may result in bacteria spreading to the middle ear. A viral upper respiratory infection may attract bacteria, which can then move to the middle ear and cause fluid buildup.
The eustachian tube, a small canal that connects the upper area of the throat to the middle ear, is responsible for supplying fresh air to the middle ear. It also drains fluid and keeps air pressure between the nose and ear at an appropriate level. In children, the eustachian tubes are smaller and more level than in adults. For this reason, fluid sometimes does not properly drain from the ear. A cold or other respiratory illness may also cause inadequate fluid drainage.
Adenoids are small areas of tissue near the eustachian tubes. They are responsible for fighting off bacteria that enter through the mouth and nose. Because children have weaker immune systems, it is common for bacteria to get trapped in the adenoids, which can cause chronic ear infections.
What Are the Symptoms of Ear Infections in Children?
If your child has an ear infection, he or she may exhibit such symptoms as:
- Tugging or pulling at one or both ears
- Fussiness and crying
- Problems with sleeping
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Problems with balance
- Problems with hearing or with responding to quiet sounds
These symptoms can be painful and bothersome for children, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. In rare cases, ear infections can lead to complications, such as spreading of the infection to nearby bones, so prompt treatment is vital.
How Are Ear Infections in Children Diagnosed?
One of our doctors will first ask questions about your child's behavior and health to better understand what may be contributing to the condition. He may also use a specialized instrument that directs a puff of air into your child's ear canal to check for fluid. Our doctors have several other diagnostic tools that may be used to test the air pressure in your child's ear drum and determine whether there is fluid buildup.
How Are Ear Infections in Children Treated?
Our doctors may recommend treatment through antibiotics taken over the course of seven to ten days. Over-the-counter pain relievers may also be recommended to help ease discomfort. In cases of recurrent infection in which antibiotic therapy has proven unsuccessful, our doctors may discuss surgical options, such as placing a temporary tube or tubes in the eardrum to help with drainage and prevent future infections. These pressure equalization (PE) tubes eventually fall out on their own after six months to a year, and they may or may not need to be replaced.
We also educate parents on ways to minimize the development of ear infections, including certain vaccinations, good hand-washing practices, avoidance of cigarette smoke, and refraining from putting children to sleep with a bottle. During your visit, your doctor will take all the time necessary to help you understand lifestyle changes that may help reduce your child's risk of developing ear infections.
Contact Our ENT Specialists
If your child is experiencing the painful effects of an ear infection, contact our ear, nose, and throat practice to schedule an appointment. We provide specialized pediatric care, and we are committed to restoring your child to optimal health.