Causes and Treatment of Middle Ear Inflammation in Babies
There are some ailments that stick to us only in certain seasons. For example, flu, although it can be seen in the summer season, is a disease mostly encountered in the winter season. But some inconveniences do not leave you alone both in winter and in summer.
Ear-related disorders are one of them and can cause problems not only for children but also for adults. For this reason, you, the parents, should have knowledge about everything about your baby in the adventure of raising them, and you should also have a good grasp of the subject of otitis media in babies.
Where Exactly Is The Middle Ear?
Otitis media, which is a disease that affects both children and adults, is a subject that must be learned about. Moreover, since the ear has a duty to balance the body besides hearing, any discomfort that occurs here can cause not only pain and suffering, but also different symptoms. For this reason, it is useful to talk about the structure of the ear first.
The ear, which is our hearing organ, consists of 3 parts, the inner, outer and middle ear. External ear; The auricle is the part that contains the ear canal and eardrum. During the ear examination, this part and the eardrum are checked first. inner ear; It is the part of the temple where the hearing and balance organs are located.
The middle ear, on the other hand, can be defined as an air-filled cavity, the size of a chickpea, in the inner part of the ear, starting from the inner part of the eardrum. Here, behind the eardrum, there are 3 small ossicles called hammer, anvil, and stirrup that enable hearing. In addition, it is connected to the back of the nose and throat with the Eustachian tube and opens to the outside through the airway. Thanks to the swallowing reflex, air enters the middle ear through this channel.
Especially cold weather paves the way for otitis media as in many diseases. We have brought together for you the answers to the questions that bother us, such as what is otitis media and what are its causes.
What is Middle Ear Inflammation?
We now know that the ear is an air-filled cavity. This space, which should be filled with air, may fill with inflamed fluid due to any infection and cause pain. Then, due to allergies, colds, throat or respiratory infections, the eustachian tube swells and prevents fluid from draining from the middle ear to the nasal passages.
This inflamed fluid collects behind the eardrum and prepares a suitable environment for the reproduction of the disease agent in its structure. Increasing bacteria or viruses manifest themselves in the form of inflammation in the area. In short, to the question of what is a middle ear infection; The answer can be given as “infection of the mucosa lining the ear cavities”.
Why Do Babies and Children Have More Common Middle Ear Inflammation?
Many factors can cause discomfort in our hearing organ, but there are certain reasons why these disorders are more common in children and infants than in adults. The answer to the question of why is otitis media more common in babies can be explained by the following reasons.
- Infants and children have a narrower eustachian tube than adults, and even a small amount of swelling affects them more than adults.
- Children’s adenoids are larger than adults. The enlarged adenoid clogs the Eustachian tube and prepares a suitable environment for inflammation.
Otitis media is the second most common disease in childhood after upper respiratory tract infections.
Experts say that middle ear infection in babies is seen at least once in the period up to 2 years of age .
What are the Symptoms of Middle Ear Inflammation in Babies?
When children start talking, they describe their complaints more accurately, but when it comes to babies, it is more difficult to understand what the problem is. For this reason, it is important to monitor your baby’s behavior and observe where the pain is and what other symptoms are present. Symptoms of otitis media in babies are:
- Sleep problem
- Don’t tug or rub your ear
- runny nose
- High fever
- Loss of balance
- Hearing problems
- Loss of appetite
- Discharge from the ear
- Itching in and around the ear
- Rubbing your ear against the pillow
If you think your baby has one or more of these symptoms, you should consult a specialist doctor immediately.
Is Middle Ear Inflammation Contagious?
One of the issues that parents wonder about is whether this disease is contagious or not. There is no transmission of the disease from children to adults or from adults to children. However, the issue to be considered is the viral infection that causes otitis media.
Because these infections are contagious. For this reason, if you, as a mother or father, are experiencing a flu-like illness that causes an upper respiratory tract infection, you should take the necessary precautions to prevent it from infecting your baby.
What is the treatment?
Most otitis media, which is very common in childhood , heals spontaneously within 3 to 7 days without the need for special treatment. For this reason, middle ear infections in babies sometimes go unnoticed and get better. If the problem is mild in your baby, you can easily overcome the process with painkillers and antipyretic drugs that you will use in consultation with your doctor.
In addition, if there is a severe otitis media, the treatment should be done by a specialist doctor. In such treatments, antibiotics, sprays and Eustachian tube and nasal decongestants are generally used. However, antibiotics should be used under the supervision of a doctor. Otherwise, the bacteria and viruses that cause this infection become immune to the antibiotic and the drugs become ineffective.
In cases where the use of medication is insufficient, surgical methods can be applied. With surgical methods, it is aimed to drain the fluid accumulated in the ear. The patient is relieved by making a scratch in the ear or by inserting a tube at more advanced levels.
Ways to Prevent Middle Ear Inflammation
- One of the most important factors causing otitis media is the closure of the Eustachian tube. Except for upper respiratory tract infections, lying down immediately after eating causes throat reflux in both adults and children. As a result, gastric juice enters the Eustachian canal and causes swelling in the region, disrupting the functioning of the middle ear. For this reason, food should not be eaten just before going to bed and should be waited for at least 2 hours after the meal to go to bed.
- Feeding babies in bed is also one of the factors that cause otitis media. Due to the anatomy of babies, milk can reach the middle ear and cause infection. To avoid such a situation, breastfeeding babies in a slightly sitting position or feeding them with a bottle helps to prevent otitis media.
- Breast milk is recommended by experts because it both increases immunity and is more suitable for feeding in terms of breastfeeding position.
- Keeping children away from smoking environments is an important element to prevent this infection.
- Upper respiratory tract infections, which cause otitis media, are especially common in children who have just started nursery school. For this reason, it is necessary to strengthen your child’s immune system.
- For allergy sufferers, protection from allergy-causing factors or allergy treatment also contributes to the prevention of otitis media.
- Adenoid is one of the factors that cause otitis media. Since it causes the closure of the Eustachian tube, if there is a large adenoid that causes problems, it will be right to apply the necessary treatment to reduce or remove it with the advice of your doctor.
As a result, ear pain in children should be taken into account. Especially for otitis media in babies, families should be careful and watch their babies’ behavior carefully.
It is very difficult to understand the complaints of babies who cannot speak yet. For this reason, when you go to the doctor, the doctor will listen to the patient’s story from you, so you should transfer all the details to your doctor and you should not waste time for the necessary treatment.
”Why Do Babies Have Earaches?” Read our “What Causes Earaches in Babies? How is it treated?” article for detailed information.
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