Otitis Media

General Illness Information

Common Name: Otitis Media

Medical Term: Otitis media

Description: An infection (viral or bacterial) of the lining of the middle ear. It is common in children and is usually secondary to an upper respiratory infection.

Causes:

  • Viral or bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract, usually spreading to the middle ear via the eustachian tube.
  • The causative micro-organism varies according to which ones are epidemic in any community at any given time.

Prevention: Treat all ear infections promptly.

Incidence is higher in households with smokers. Thus discourage smoking in the home.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Persistent, severe earache;
  • Hearing loss;
  • Fever;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • If ear drum perforation occurs, there is a purulent discharge;
  • Ear pulling or tugging in small children.

Risk Factors

  • Recent illness, such as a respiratory infection, that has lowered resistance.
  • Crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
  • Genetic factors. Some American Indians, especially the Navajo, seem more susceptible.
  • Children who had first attack before 6 months of age are more susceptible to repeated infections.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The diagnosis is made on history and examination.

General Measures:

  • Treatment usually involves medication and supportive care to relieve pain.
  • Application of gentle heat to the area around the ears may help to relieve pain.
  • Swimming should be avoided until infection clears
  • Surgery to insert plastic tubes through the eardrum to drain pus or fluid from the middle ear, or surgery to remove the adenoids.
  • If the eardrum is bulging, a small cut, or myringotomy, may be made in it to relieve pressure and pain.

Medications:

  • Appropriate antibiotics will be prescribed, if the physician decides the infection is caused by bacteria.
  • Analgesics, such as acetaminophen, to control pain.
  • A follow up visit to the doctor may be necessary to ensure that the infection has cleared.

Activity:

As tolerated. Children with otitis media usually like to rest until the infection is controlled and symptoms subside.

Diet:

No dietary restrictions.

Possible Complications :

  • Mastoiditis.
  • Hearing loss
  • Meningitis.
  • Abscess of the brain, and its coverings.

Prognosis

Excellent, with proper treatment.

Other

Nothing specified.

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