What is Acute Otitis Media (Ear Infection)?

What is acute otitis media?

Acute otitis media is the technical term to define the common ear infections, more specifically relating to the part of the ear which is found behind the eardrum known as the the middle ear. This part of the ear gets infected when it gets overloaded with fluid. Normally, the excess fluid from the middle ear gets drained via the Eustachian tube which links the middle ear to the nose. However, in situations where the fluid is not drained as when the person has contracted a cold and the nose becomes swelled, bacteria or viruses may enter the middle ear without being able to leave. As the fluids accummulate in the ear, the pathogens cause infections leading to pain, fever, and irritability.

ear infection

When do ear infections occur?

Ear infections may occur during states of fever. If the ill person is irritable and experiencing pain in the ear, this could be indicative of an ear infection. However, health problems like sore throats can also account for pain in the ear without necessarily having ear infections.

Treatment of ear infections

Antibiotics were used to be given to treat ear infections. However, new studies have shown that we can get away with the infections without having resort to antibiotics. No need for antibiotics?

Children with ear infections have the capability to recover from them without being given antibiotics. This is known as the “observation option”. The child would not have to deal with the side effects often associated with antibiotics. Moreover, not using antibiotics unnecessarily also implies that the bacteria will not develop into more resistant strains as is often the case when they are exposed to antibiotics. However, the care-giver has to be consulted before going for this option, because, at other times, antibiotics might be needed.

The antibiotic used is the amoxicillin.

Prevention of ear infections

Ear infections are common for children. However, they can be avoided by tackling the cause that leads to the ear infections: for example, cold.

Therefore, a way to avoid having ear infections is to reduce the spread of the germs responsible for colds. Colds are contagious. If measures are taken to avoid developing colds, the risk to have ear infections greatly decreases.
The measures would include:

  1. Covering mouth when coughing
  2. Blowing nose with disposable tissuesDo not allow children to share toys that they put in their mouths.
  3. Wash hands after sneezing.
  4. Not sharing food and drinks with other sick children.
  5. Disinfect play areas regularly.

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