What is an ear infection? Are ear infections serious?
Ear infections are also called otitis media. Yes, acute ear infections can be very serious. There is a risk of having a perforated ear drum, losing your hearing and ear pain. Chronic ear infections are often due to inflammation in the ear canal. This is the most common type of ear infections in children.
What causes ear infections?
Acute ear infections are caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Patients with chronic ear infections often have some sort of food sensitivity or allergen in their diet. What happens is their ear tubes or eustachian tubes will become swollen which will block the ear drainage, then these people are pre-disposed to having an ear infection. The reason why you will see ear infections in a baby or in children than an adult is because an infant or kid's ear tubes are horizontal because the face has not fully grown, so their ears don't drain as well. As you grow into an adult, your ear tubes are more vertical, so they can drain ear fluid better.
What are some signs and symptoms of ear infection?
The most common ear infections symptoms (including middle ear infection/inner ear infection) are when a child is tugging on their ear (if they cannot speak), they could have ringing in the ears, ear pain, fever, jaw pain, runny nose, etc.
When the patient comes to the doctor, the doctor will look in their ear with an AudioScope. If there is an ear infection, the doctor will be able to see some redness, the ear canal may be blood shot, there may be some ear fluid built up behind the ear drum, there may be some bulging of the ear drum.
Jennifer commented that ear infections are a big concern for parents. She's experienced taking her son to the hospital in the middle of the night when he was a baby because he was tugging at his ears and she was afraid he had an ear infection. Jennifer also has a number of friends and family members who's children have suffered from chronic ear infections who have gone through rounds of antibiotics and eventually had to put tubes in their children's ears.