Ear Problems (Part 1): Dealing with a Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)

February 4, 2010

The pain of an ear infection such as a middle ear infection (Otitis Media) can be one of the worst kinds to deal with, especially for children. Luckily, there are ways to prevent infection and it is usually easy to treat.

A middle ear infection occurs when the Eustachian Tube, which connects the middle part of the ear to the upper respiratory system via the pharynx, becomes infected. The Eustachian Tube has two important functions; it secretes mucus into the throat (keeping germs and other foreign things out), and it equalizes pressure in the middle ear with your surrounding atmosphere (when your ears “pop”).

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Ear-anatomy-text-small-en.png

A middle ear infection is likely to occur right after you have had a respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu, or if you are suffering from allergies.

Symptoms of a middle ear infection include:

  • Ear ache
  • Noise, buzzing, or ringing in the ear
  • Fever
  • Hearing ability may decrease and seem muffled or mute
  • Itching or other discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Redness or swelling on the eardrum

Middle ear infections are common in children as their Eustachian Tubes are smaller and more horizontal, and are thus more likely to clog. Signs of an ear infection in small children include inconsolable crying and fever; if you suspect an ear infection, especially in a baby, or if there’s a fever, take your child to the doctor right away. Babies younger than 6 months will be prescribed antibiotics; your doctor may have you monitor other children for 48 hours before prescribing medication.

If symptoms do not improve after a couple days of treatment, return to your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe a surgery where a tube is placed in the eardrum to allow fluid to escape the middle ear, relieving pressure, and allowing air in.

If a middle ear infection is left untreated, you risk permanent hearing loss, perforation of the eardrum, mastoiditis (infection of an adjacent bone), meningitis (infection of the brain), and facial nerve paralysis.

Men, people with a family history of ear infections, babies who are bottle-fed, people exposed to a lot of smoke, and people with poor immune systems are at a higher risk for having a middle ear infection.

Ways to decrease your risk include:

  • Avoiding sick people and crowded places where you are more likely to encounter them; daycares with more than 6 children tend to increase the risk of the children developing ear infections
  • Avoiding coughing, sneezing, or intentionally causing your Eustachian Tube to open (with your throat muscles) during or after a cold as these actions may increase your risk
  • Building your immune system–improve your health by getting all your vitamins and minerals. Welltrient One is a great source for your daily nutritional needs. Making sure that you have all your recommended nutrients means making sure that the organs, tissues, and cells that make up your immune system have the building blocks they need to function properly
  • Strengthening your immune system. MesoSilver acts as a natural antibiotic, destroying pathogens on contact. It has no side effects or drug interactions, and when fighting respiratory infections it can be particularly helpful when administered with an Omron Nebulizer

More information on ear infection symptoms.

By Emma Spera

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