You most likely experienced an ear infection as a child or know someone who did. That’s because children are very susceptible to ear infections because of small and tight ear canals that can trap bacteria and viruses easily. These can be very painful and recurrent for many children, so it’s important to address them early and effectively with the help of an ENT specialist.
What Are Ear Infections?
There are a few different types of ear infection that occur in different areas of the ear. Children most commonly experience middle ear infections, which cause a buildup of mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the eustachian tube. This can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, especially in children who have very small eustachian tubes that can easily trap fluid and prevent it from draining. These infections usually occur because of bacteria, viruses, or infections in the surrounding areas like the adenoids or sinuses.
What Symptoms Should I Look For?
Especially in very young children, it can be difficult to assess whether they are experiencing an ear infection, specifically if they can’t verbally express their discomfort or symptoms. In this case, some things to look for include:
- Difficulty balancing or sleeping
- Tugging or pulling the ears
- Decreased hearing or responsiveness to noise
- Fluid draining from the ears
There are many other symptoms that children can exhibit, so you should be sure to have them see an ENT specialist even if you believe it may be something else. Untreated ear infections can cause long-term damage to your child’s hearing and the surrounding areas.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to fight ear infections, but if symptoms persist or frequent ear infections occur, your ENT specialist may recommend ear tubes. Ear tubes are inserted through the ear drum and have a number of functions. The tubes help with proper eustachian tube function by regulating middle ear pressure. Ear tubes can help prevent further ear infection and can relieve hearing loss that is caused by the accumulation of middle ear fluid. These stay in place for around six to nine months and can be a long-term solution to recurrent infections. In some cases, surgical removal of the adenoids can help prevent recurrent ear infections if adenoidal infections continue to spread.
How Do I Prevent Ear Infections?
Practicing good hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent infections from occurring, and this includes regular hand-washing habits, as well as avoiding other ill children. Children commonly have weak immune systems and can be easily susceptible to recurrent ear infections without intervention. Ear infections can commonly occur as a result of other bacterial or viral illnesses, so preventing these diseases can greatly lower your child’s chance of becoming infected. Keeping up on your child’s vaccinations, including the flu vaccine, can also greatly improve their chances against becoming ill and infected. Some studies have shown that children that are regularly exposed to cigarette smoke have an increased chance of experiencing ear infections. Also, take every step to avoid introducing foreign objects or substances into your child’s ears.
Schedule a Consultation
Ear infections are one of the most common medical conditions for young children, but our ENT specialists can recommend the best options for treatment for your child. To know if your child is a candidate for ear tubes and to learn about the benefits, contact Alabama Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists to schedule an appointment today.