Ear infections are usually caused by a virus or bacterium. The infection normally results from another condition or illness such as flu, allergy or cold which causes swelling and congestion of nasal passages, Eustachian tube and throat. Ear infection is very common in children, especially those between six months and three years of age; this is due to their poorly developed immune system, and also because their eustachian tube which connect their middle ear, to the throat, are much shorter or smaller (measuring at about 1/2 inch). This makes it much easier for germs and bacteria to reach the middle ear, from the throat or nose, during colds or flu which are rather common in babies and young children.
There are 3 main types of ear infection. They include;
-Acute Otitis Media (abbreviated as, AOM); this is the most common type of ear infection. Parts of the patient’s middle ear gets infected, become swollen, and fluid gets trapped behind their eardrum. This leads to pain in the middle ear, also known as, earache.
-Otitis Media with Effusions (abbreviated as, OME); this is the inflammation and build up of fluid (or effusions) in the ear without viral or bacterial infection. Sometimes this can happen after the ear infection has been resolved, and the fluid remains trapped behind the patient’s eardrum.
-Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion (abbreviated as, COME); this happens when fluid stays in the ear for a long period of time, or keeps on returning, even though there’s no infection. COME makes children more susceptible/prone to new infections, and can also affect their hearing.
Symptoms of Ear Infection Common in Children
-Ear pain, especially when the child is lying down
-Reduced appetite; an ear infection actually makes it painful for your kid to swallow or chew.
-Pulling or tugging at an ear
-Crying a lot more than usual
-Acting more irritable than normal
-Fluid draining from ear
-Loss of balance
-Vomiting or diarrhea
-Unpleasant smell; you might detect a foul odor/smell coming from your kid’s ear
Some of above symptoms might indicate various conditions, therefore, it is important to get the right diagnosis and proper treatment. In case you happen to notice any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms, contact a pediatrician immediately.