Posts tagged middle ear infection
A middle ear infection, also known as ‘otitis media,’ is an infection or inflammation that occurs inside the eardrums. This can cause sinus issues, among others. Generally speaking, people with middle ear infections pick them up from colds, coughs, sore throats, and other respiratory problems. Of course, the word ‘chronic’ suggests this is an ongoing problem, which is why we want to address the treatment side of things today.
With ear infections, doctors like to wait at least two months to three months before classifying it as ‘chronic.’ ‘Acute’ ear infections usually only last for a few weeks. Typically, those with an acute infection will experience fluids accumulating behind the eardrum.
These fluids can remain behind the eardrum for a few months. If the fluid stays in place for a prolonged period or there’s some form of negative pressure, the patient will continue to see problems long into the future. Over time, the middle ear may develop a hole in the eardrum, leading to more severe issues. Doctors talk about middle ear infections in terms of months as opposed to days or weeks because chronic middle ear infections typically start without pain or any real symptoms. As time goes on, the ears may pop after sustained pressure and result in hearing loss.
Before talking about the treatments and what you can do to alleviate the issue, we should note that infants and young children are particularly prone to middle ear infections. In fact, three in every four children will experience a middle ear infection before their third birthday. As the canal that connects the back of the nose/throat to the middle ear, the ‘Eustachian tube’ is more horizontal and much shorter when children are younger. For the microorganisms that cause infection, a shorter tube allows them to enter the middle ear faster. In combination with a young child’s weaker immune system, and children find it hard to stave off.
Treating Middle Ear Infections
In the majority of cases, antibiotics will be the first course of treatment. Even though there’s no real evidence to suggest their effectiveness in treating otitis media, since most middle ear infections are viral, they can remove various symptoms and make it easier for the infection to resolve itself. Antibiotics usually fix the problem in around five days. Doctors often prescribe amoxicillin, allowing you to get back on your feet in no time.
After medication, many children and adults require grommets, which are also an option if the middle ear infection doesn’t clear up immediately. Grommets are tiny tubes placed inside the eardrum that aid with drainage. As we discovered earlier, the problem worsens when the fluid doesn’t drain away, so grommets could stop the negative spiral of events that makes otitis media worse.
Under general anesthesia, these grommets can be installed in around 15 minutes and are left inside the ear for several months. With the eardrum open, the middle ear infection can heal fully, and the grommet will eventually be pushed out. You typically won’t feel any pain, and the majority of grommets are removed between six months and a year after being installed.
If the problem is too severe for either of these solutions, surgery is recommended if there aren’t any other solutions available. With this option, the idea will be to remove the infected tissue and the areas causing the recurring pain and discomfort. Once these problem areas have been eliminated, an intact eardrum can then recreate a middle ear space as found in healthy ears. Hearing can then be restored.
At first, you may find it strange that hearing is the last thing to be restored, but the first two steps are pivotal to stop the infection from returning. If these two steps aren’t met at the beginning, anything else done to improve hearing will be futile. If the infection comes back after the hearing is restored, hearing can be lost again so this is why the order of priority has been developed in this way.
In most cases, the problem will clear itself up with the help of antibiotics. If this doesn’t work, your doctor should discuss more great solutions so you can move forward with your life without worrying about infection and discomfort in your ears.
Researchers have discovered a possible reason for why some young children are more susceptible to ear infections than others. The recent findings may require a revision of some textbooks. It has long been noted that certain children frequently battle with middle-ear infections such as glue ear. This is a buildup of fluid in the ear chamber. Updated understanding of how the ear develops and functions holds the key to understanding this childhood phenomenon.
While studying lab mice, it was found that the lining of the middle ear chamber can come from two different types of tissue: Endoderm and neural crest cells are the options. Endoderm tissue develops a protective and cleansing lining of cilia. These small hair strands aid in keeping the middle ear clean and are also what prove to be especially effective in fighting off infection. This offensive mechanism ensures a well-swept environment in which fluid has a difficult time building up.
On the other hand, neural crest cells are smooth and hairless. This allows fluid and debris to collect with less difficulty resulting in more infections. Scientists are unsure as to why there are two types of cells. Birds and reptiles, for example, do not have this option; it may be due to the number of bones in the middle ear. The three bones in a human ear require room for movement.
Just why the body is programmed to have one or the other tissue type is still uncertain. However, what is known is that certain textbooks will need to be revised. Previously, it was thought that the development of the endoderm tissue was merely a continuation of the lining in another part of the ear—this, at least, has been cleared up. It is hoped that further study can help improve the treatment of childhood ear infections and other middle ear disorders.