Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS
Acute Otitis Media
Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Common Name/Other Name

Middle ear infection (Eng.); tulok; impeksyon sa loob ng tainga (Tag.)

Acute otitis media is a common bacterial or viral infection due to the build-up of fluids in the middle ear especially among infants and children. It is often a result of another disease that causes congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat and Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube can become swollen or blocked due to allergies, respiratory infections, a sudden increase in pressure, drinking while lying down and inhaling tobacco smoke. Once the Eustachian tube is blocked, the mucus cannot drain out of the middle ear leading to infection and inflammation.

The onset of symptoms are sudden. It usually presents with ear pain, drainage of fluid from ear and diminished hearing.  

A doctor can easily diagnose acute otitis media using a pneumatic otoscope which is used to look inside the ears and determine the presence of fluid behind the eardrum. Other diagnostic tests include tympanometry, reflectometry and hearing test.

Untreated otitis media can progress as infections in the other parts of the head, permanent hearing loss and problems with speech and language development.

 

 

Symptoms
  • Ear pain
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Diminished hearing
  • Fever
  • Headache

Additional symptoms that can be observed in children include the following:

  • Tugging or pulling the ears
  • Excessive crying
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea
Risk Factors
  • Children between 6 months and 2 years old
  • Children who are cared for in group settings or attend a daycare
  • Infants who drink from a bottle especially while lying down
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke or high levels of air pollution
  • Family history of otitis media
  • Colder seasons when colds and flu are more prevalent or during seasonal high pollen counts
  • Children who have a cleft palate or Down’s syndrome
  • People who experience changes in the altitude
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
  • Pain relievers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used to reduce ear pain.
  • Antibiotics are usually given as ear drops to address the infection. Some commonly prescribed antibiotics for otitis media include the following:
  • Amoxicillin is the antibiotic of choice if bacterial infection is severe or does not immediately resolve.
  • Cephalosporins such as cefdinir, cefuroxime, cefpodoxime and ceftriaxone are used as alternative drugs if the patient is allergic to penicillin.
Treatment and Management
  • Symptoms of most ear infections resolve after a few days without antibiotic treatment. Most physicians advise parents to monitor the condition of the child for a few days without prescribing any drug treatment.
  • Place a warm, moist towel over the affected ear to reduce the pain.
  • A surgical procedure called myringotomy can be done by making a small opening on the eardrums for drainage of fluid and relief of pressure. A small tube is placed in the opening to allow adequate ventilation and prevent fluid accumulation in the middle ear.

Prevention

  • Prevent being infected with common colds or other diseases by practicing good hygiene.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Breastfeed an infant for at least six months to pass down antibodies against ear infections.
  • Avoid laying down a baby while bottle-feeding.
  • Monitor routine vaccinations of a child.
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
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