An ear infection, or otis media, is an inflammation of the middle ear that occurs when fluid builds up behind the ear drum, usually the result of a bacterial infection. Adults can get ear infections, but they are most common in younger children. A child’s Eustachian tubes are shorter, more horizontal and straighter than those of an adult, making it an easier path for bacteria to follow.
Ear infections are sometimes the end result of other ailments such as the flu or a cold. Even if your child can’t tell you their ear hurts, there are signs that could indicate a possible ear infection, including:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Trouble sleeping
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Loss of appetite
Talk to your doctor or pediatrician about treatment options. Sometimes ear infections can clear on their own, but others may require antibiotic treatments. If your child suffers chronic ear infections (four or more in one year), it may be time to consult an ENT and pursue other preventative-focused options. Chronic ear infections can have long-term effects on a child’s hearing and speech development.
Ear tubes may be the solution. A surgical procedure places a small ventilation tube in the eardrum that improves airflow and prevents fluid buildup in the middle ear. Ear tubes usually stay in place six to nine months, eventually falling out on their own.
Lake Norman ENT physicians are happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s chronic ear infections and discuss treatment options. Schedule a consultation today.