Otitis media is an infection in the middle ear or in the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. It is typical in children than adults.
Aside from managing pain and monitoring the condition, ear infections usually disappear on their own. Some people are prone to having multiple ear infections. It may lead to hearing problems and other complications.
Facts About Otitis Media
- About three out of four children have at least one episode of otitis media by the time they are 3 years of age.
- Otitis media can also affect adults, but it is primarily a condition that occurs in children.
- Otitis media can occur as a result of a cold, sore throat, or respiratory infection.
- Otitis media can cause hearing loss but it is treatable. Nonetheless, untereated otitis media may lead to permanent hearing loss.
Related Conditions of Otitis Media
- Otitis media with effusion. It causes a fluid buildup in the middle ear without bacterial or viral infection. This may occur because the fluid buildup persists after an ear infection has gotten better.
- Chronic otitis media with effusion. It is due to the remaining fluid in the middle ear and continues to return without bacterial or viral infection.
- Chronic suppurative otitis media. It is an ear infection that does not go away with the usual treatments. This can lead to a hole in the eardrum.
What are the Symptoms of Otitis Media?
- Unusual irritability
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Tugging or pulling at one or both ears
- Loss of balance
- Hearing difficulties
- Ear pain
- Fluid draining from the ear
These symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis.
Risk Factors of Otitis Media
- Age. Children aging 6 months and 2 years old are susceptible to infections due to the size and shape of their eustachian tubes.
- Group child care. Group settings are more likely to get colds and ear infections due to exposure to typical infections.
- Infant feeding. Infants who drink from a bottle while lying down are at higher risk of ear infections.
- Seasonal factors. It is common during the fall and winter. People with seasonal allergies may have a greater risk of ear infections.
- Poor ventilation. Exposure to smoke or high levels of air pollution can increase the risk of ear infections.
How to Diagnose Otitis Media?
After assessing the symptoms, your doctor may also check the outer ear and eardrums using an otoscope. A hearing test may be performed for children who have frequent ear infections. Doctors may also recommend Tympanometry to determine how the middle ear is functioning.
Treatment for Otitis Media
Ear drops and antibiotics are recommended treatments for ear infections. Your doctor may also recommend ear cleaning to prevent the spread of the infection.