Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Chronic Otitis Media with effusion/Recurrent Acute Otitis Media
Ear infections are one of the most common medical issues for children, and a frequent reason for pediatrician visits. Infections can begin in early infancy and tend to gradually resolve as children age into childhood and early adolescence. An ear infection occurs when fluid accumulates behind the eardrum as a result of a cold or other viral illness, and becomes trapped in the middle ear. Secondary infection by bacteria causes the acute symptoms of pain, fever, irritability, and changes in sleeping habits. Children with craniofacial disorders including cleft lip and palate, congenital bony abnormalities of the skull and face, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and allergies are especially prone to ear infections.
Most often, the fluid in the middle ear resolves spontaneously following the infection, but in some patients the fluid remains causing hearing loss. If unaddressed this fluid can cause chronic changes to the eardrum, middle ear hearing bones, and permanent hearing loss.
Patients with persistent middle ear effusions or multiple, recurrent acute infections may be candidates for a minor procedure in which small tympanostomy (pressure equalization) tubes are placed into the eardrum to prevent accumulation of fluid and/or remove fluid which has not resolved spontaneously. This procedure also allows for immediate improvements in hearing. These ear tubes are temporary and typically dislodge and fall out in 12-24 months.
If your child is prone to recurring ear infections, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our otologists.