Posts tagged Eustachian tubes
“My Ear Hurts” is a statement that parents often dread. Immediately, you think ear infection. However, it is important that you don’t jump to conclusions. Before you start panicking, here are a few facts about ear infections that you should know to not only help your child but know when to seek help from a doctor or otolaryngologist.
Most illnesses are caused by either bacterium of viruses. The eustachian tubes is a part of the body that drains fluids from the middle ear. When it is swollen due to infection, it doesn’t function properly. Fluid is instead pulled into the middle ear, causing bacteria to grow.
Common Symptoms of an Ear Infection
Symptoms are your number one indicator of an ear infection. So, it’s crucial that you know what to look for. If you are worried, then check to see if your child has any of the following:
- The common cold.
- Irritation during the day or night.
- Hearing loss.
- Trouble laying down straight.
- Blood or pus in the ear.
- Ear pain.
When to Call Your Doctor
These symptoms are serious. Blood or pus coming out of the ear probably means a ruptured ear drum. The ear drums swell and can burst, especially if your child messes with it. Now, this can heal, but a professional can tell you what to do so it heals properly.
If the pain is too great or your child cannot hear, then visit your doctor or an otolaryngologist. You shouldn’t wait for their temperature to go down. Ear infection can also be the cause of a fever and stiff neck. Home treatment only works so much, and very little if your child’s condition is severe.
Hopefully, this helps you find the signs of an ear infection. Next week, find out how to prevent an ear infection from occurring.
For children with a common middle-ear problem, a new study reports that a simple treatment with a nasal balloon may diminish issues of hearing loss and avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics, according to a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Common to young children is their developing otitis media with effusion, aka “glue ear.” This condition occurs when the middle ear fills with thick fluid that may affect the development in hearing. Currently, no symptoms manifest themselves, so parents most often take their children with hearing difficulties to see a doctor. In 2004 in the US, 2.2 million were diagnosed with otitis media with effusion, costing an estimated $4 billion.
“Unfortunately, all available medical treatments for otitis media with effusion such as antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants and intranasal steroids are ineffective and have unwanted effects, and therefore cannot be recommended,” writes Dr. Ian Williamson, Primary Care and Population Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, with coauthors.
In the study published in the CMAJ, researchers from the United Kingdom surveyed a randomized control trial to determine if auto-inflation with a nasal balloon could be used on a large scale in order to see if children could inflate a balloon in each nostril within a primary care setting. The results were surprising in the effectiveness of such a procedure, although shown only in small trials.
“Autoinflation is a simple, low-cost procedure that can be taught to young children in a primary care setting with a reasonable expectation of compliance,” write the authors. “We have found use of autoinflation in young, school-aged children with otitis media with effusion to be feasible, safe and effective in clearing effusions, and in improving important ear symptoms, concerns and related quality of life over a 3-month watch-and-wait period.”
The nasal balloon has been around for decades, known as a home remedy. This treatment is similar to popping your nose when your ears get clogged on airplanes.
The researchers suggest that this treatment should be used more widely in children over age 4 to manage otitis media with effusion and help treat the associated hearing loss.
What’s important about this DIY therapy for autoinflation is that it’s a nondrug intervention, and that it’s underrepresented in research and clinical practice. If you’re child suffers from otitis media, ask you doctor about this simple procedure that has been around for decades.
While there are barriers to using nondrug therapies, in the case of autoinflation, doctors need to know about other effective techniques; how they are done and how to instruct patients and families in how to use it.
When pressure increases in the air around you, your Eustachian tubes are responsible for balancing things out inside your ears. The problem is that these tubes can be blocked by allergies, sinus problems or a cold. The result is discomfort and potentially an ear infection.
The Eustachian tubes are tiny. They only measure about 1.5 inches in length. These tubes, which are only a few millimeters in diameter, connect your ears, nose and throat. The tubes open and close depending on what you are doing. During speech, or while yawing and swallowing, the tubes open. Fluid from your ears drains to the back of your throat by means of these tubes. They also occasionally open up to allow pressure to be regulated.
If you are suffering from a cold or allergies, swelling may cause the Eustachian tubes to be unable to perform their usual function. Sinus congestion can also block these tubes. In children, a buildup of fluid can be dangerous and result in temporary or even permanent hearing damage. Children are more susceptible to inner ear problems because their Eustachian tubes are not done developing and cannot drain fluid down the throat like they do for adults.
Sometimes flying on an airplane can increase problems with the Eustachian tubes because of the cabin pressure changes. To limit this effect, you may wish to chew gum. This will increase saliva production and cause you to swallow more frequently. Frequent swallowing will keep the Eustachian tubes open.
There are a number of different ways to treat ear aches that are caused by Eustachian tube issues. Proper breathing techniques can be of assistance. Also, if an infection occurs, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic for you. If the problem is due to inflammation, a corticosteroid may be prescribed to reduce the swelling and help fluid to drain. A final option is the surgical implanting of tubes into the ear drums to keep swelling from being able to block the tubes. This procedure is more frequently performed on children in an effort to preserve their hearing when it is being threatened by frequent or severe Eustachian tube blockages.