Hearing is an irreplaceable human ability to perceive external sounds. Thanks to it, we can navigate in the environment and maintain communication with other people. Healthy hearing is very important for children, especially in the early years of their life. Why?
Adequate recognition of external sounds, including parental speech, is integral to a child’s development. Children learn language by listening to sounds. Moreover, hearing is part of learning to read, write, and develop social communication skills. Thus, the sooner we take care of a child’s hearing, the better.
Those who have children know very well that they often get sick. The main reason is unformed immunity, which is much weaker than that of an adult. At the same time, it is especially difficult for children to tolerate disorders associated with their ears. But sleepless nights, crying, and tears are not the worst thing. With the wrong or missing treatment, temporary hearing loss in children may occur.
Untreated ear infections in childhood can have lasting effects later on in life. There are causes and symptoms of middle ear infections that are most likely to cause the problem. To prevent this from happening to your child, it is important to monitor.
What are the causes and symptoms of middle ear infections?
There are different types of ear infections, and they can all cause temporary hearing loss. However, it is the middle ear infection that is most often the cause of problems in children.
Middle ear infections, also called acute otitis media, cause pain and inflammation in the ears. Their main reason is complications of diseases (colds, acute respiratory infections, flu, etc.). In rare cases, allergy or injury. In case of improper or untimely treatment, germs from the oral cavity, and nasal passages enter the middle ear area. It results in pain and a feeling of blocked ears due to the accumulation of fluid or pus behind the eardrum. A particular danger is the long-term accumulation of fluid in the middle ear because this can lead to chronic otitis media and, as a consequence, permanent hearing loss.
Young kids with hearing deprivation may have difficulties in their social development. Behavioral complications may arise when a kid is unable to communicate effectively with others. Hearing deprivations may also cause the child and the parent to be frustrated.
A leading Audiology Island specialist, Dr. Stella Fulman, notes that despite the pain and temporary hearing loss, the prognosis for recovery is good. With proper treatment of middle ear infections, hearing is fully restored. The main thing is to recognize a middle ear infection in time and seek help.
There are no difficulties in diagnosing and treating middle ear infections in adolescents or adults. They can talk about their condition. It can be more difficult to recognize primary middle ear infections in newborns. The child cannot say what exactly hurts. Mothers sometimes find it difficult to determine the true cause of their baby’s anxiety. Therefore, it is very important to know the symptoms of middle ear infections. Thanks to this, you will see something wrong in time and seek help from a doctor.
The main symptoms in young children
Several distinctive symptoms can tell you right away that your child is developing a middle ear infection. Among them:
Slow or absent response to parental voice or other sounds
Restless, capricious behavior of the child
Discharge of fluid or pus from the ears
If you experience these symptoms, you should immediately contact your doctor.
Main symptoms of middle ear infections in adolescents and adults
An adult or teenager can talk in more detail about their problem than a newborn. Therefore, the number of signs that can be used to identify a middle ear infection is increasing:
Severe ear pain. It can be both aching and acute
Feeling of stuffiness in the ear. Sometimes there is a feeling of a foreign object inside or a pressing sensation
Nausea or vomiting
Swelling of the skin behind the ear
Sudden hearing loss
You should consult a doctor if you notice similar symptoms in yourself or a loved one. Only a specialist can make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Children suffer from middle ear infections more often than adults. Why is this happening? The main cause of middle ear infections in children is directly related to the features of the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube of a child is positioned more horizontally and the muscles that are responsible for opening and closing it are not as strong, therefore the ventilation that is important for keeping the middle ear not retaining fluid is not as effective as in adults. If the child does have a cold or an upper respiratory infection, the congestion can travel to the ear and not dissipate as quickly leading to an ear infection.
Do not forget about the child’s immunity. A middle ear infection can occur at any age, but children have weak immunity. At a young age, it is not yet formed, as in an adult, and is quite vulnerable to attack by various viruses and bacteria that enter the body.
It is important to remember that a middle ear infection can lead to temporary and fluctuating hearing loss, so you should not delay treating middle ear infections. Seek help in time to avoid more serious complications.
How are middle ear infections treated?
If you notice signs of a middle ear infection in your child or loved one, the first step is to consult a doctor. Any delay increases the likelihood of complications.
It is necessary to undergo a series of procedures and studies to make the correct diagnosis. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the infection, as well as other health problems the child or adult may have. Most often it is carried out in two stages.
Medication is prescribed
Symptoms are monitored to determine additional treatment
Besides, rest, easy-to-digest nutrition, and an optimal drinking regime play a significant role in a quick recovery.
It is very important to complete the full course of treatment and recovery. You should not stop taking medications and prescribed procedures, even if your well-being has improved. Otherwise, repeated inflammation of the middle ear may occur with all the ensuing consequences.
Tips for preventing middle ear infections
If you have children, then you know very well that they are especially prone to colds. Their complications are the main cause of otitis media. Therefore, to prevent the development of otitis media, it is necessary to fight the infection. It is necessary to treat acute processes in time and prevent their transition to chronic ones.
Simple steps to take to minimize your chances of developing a middle ear infection:
Vaccinations, including flu vaccinations
Elimination of water getting into the ears
Compliance with the rules of hygiene
Do not remove all earwax
Protect ears from cold, wear a hat
Limit child exposure to tobacco smoke
Any condition, including a middle ear infection, is better prevented than treated. These simple tips are sure to help you.
Parents of children with middle ear infections often visit Audiology Island. We use the most modern methods and equipment to help them in the shortest possible time. However, a lot also depends on the parents. Remember, the sooner you contact us, the sooner your child will receive qualified help!
About Dr Stella Fulman
Dr. Stella Fulman, AU.D., CCC-A received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Audiology from Brooklyn College in 2004 and her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in 2008. [ Learn More ]