Implications & complications of ear infections you need to know for all, especially for the kids
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Implications & complications of ear infections you need to know for all, especially for the kids

Implications & complications of ear infections you need to know for all, especially for the kids

Types of ear infection

AOM (acute otitis media), OME (otitis media with effusion), and Swimmer’s Ear, (i.e. otitis external) are the three main types of ear infections. In some cases ear infection can be agonizing and may need to be solved by antibiotics. However, always your physician can best recommend the solution.

AOM (acute otitis media)

Usually painful, AOM (acute otitis media) is the type of ear infection that may sometimes need antibiotic treatment. Signs may include:

1) Excessive crying

2) Pulling at ears

3) Fluid draining out of ears

4) Fever

5) Headache

6) Sleep disturbances

7) Hearing problem

8) Difficulty in balancing

9) Irritability

10) Discharge of pus or blood from ears

11) Body temperature goes up more than 100.4° F

12) Even after diagnosis of ear infection, the problem is not healed, nor gets worse

Symptoms:  Pus in the ear, eardrum’s redness and fever are the common symptoms of AOM (acute otitis media). Toddlers & infants show irritability while children may keep pulling on the affected ear. Although antibiotic is always not necessary for the children & infants, but sometimes that is the only remedy.

Causes: - Bacteria is the most common cause of AOM (acute otitis media), however viruses can also cause the same problem. Usually Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza and Moraxella catarrhal are the names of the bacteria that cause AOM. Among the viruses that commonly cause the same body problem are RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and influenza viruses.


Precautions against intake of antibiotics when tackling AOM (acute otitis media)


In most of the AOM (acute otitis media) related problems, healing can be possible without any antibiotic. Your physician can be the right person to guide you. If antibiotics are taken unnecessarily, it can invite some newer problems such as rashes, nausea, diarrhoea, and stomach pain. Some other serious side effects may also occur, but in rare cases. They may be life-threatening allergic reactions, severe skin reactions and kidney toxicity.


Over use or repeated use on antibiotics


If antibiotics are repeatedly taken, the bacterium that normally lives within the patient’s body in areas like nose, mouth, intestine and in skin becomes antibiotic resistant. Because of these resistant germs, infections cannot be killed by the common antibiotics. Hence it is advisable that if AOM exists more than 2 days or OME prolongs more than one month, you must seek advice from your physician.


OME (otitis media with effusion)

When part of our ear that gets blocked due to fluids in the Eustachian tube, connecting part between the throat and the inner-ear, fluid may get built up inside our ear for various reasons. Any one’s ear may be filled up with fluid, but not drain out easily like it happens in case of our nose. The built-up fluids become infected, resulting to AOM. In case these built-up fluids remain inside, but not with any symptom or sign of acute pain, pus, fever or redness of eardrum, the disease is OME (otitis media with effusion). This type of body condition is more common, if compared with AOM.

Causes: - The causes of OME are allergies, viral infections in upper respiratory system and exposures to irritants. Even in some of the cases the disease may be the result of residual fluid after the AOM has been treated with antibiotics or after getting partially healed of its own.  In most of the cases, the fluids’ build-up in the middle ear may not always trigger pain. Usually OME does not get healed by antibiotic treatments.

Swimmer’s Ear, (i.e. otitis externa)

Commonly the ear infection in the outer ear canal, otitis externa is known as swimmer’s ear. This infection comes with itching sensation, while redness and swelling are the additional symptoms for this problem. Because of these, a patient feels lot of pain by touching or pressing on the ear. There may also be pus in the ear. For treating this type of ear infection, antibiotics are the usual solution.

Treatments of different types:

Primary treatment of OE (otitis externa) requires removal of debris from the EAC (external auditory canal), managing pain, administering topical medication for controlling infection & edema and avoiding other contributing factors.

Most of the cases of OE are treatable over the counter tropical eardrops and analgesics.

1) Acetic acid drops are considered as the common ear drops that change the pH of the canal of the ear.

2) Next common medicine is antibacterial drops, which is effective in controlling bacterial growth.

3) The next one is antifungal preparations.

4) The other medicine is Eczematoid that responds to the OE as a topical steroid drop, but in case of recurrent or chronic cases, frequent suctions of ear may be the better solution.

5) In case of severity of the problem, narcotic analgesics and intravenous (IV) or oral antibiotic therapy may be the best option.

6) The patients with necrotizing (malignant) OE need hospitalization for getting IV antibiotic therapy.


There are some patients who experience OE in multiple times, so they need some preventive measures. The following measures can be of great help to these OE patients.

 Traumas which are self-inflicted must be avoided. (Ex. insertion of objects / cotton swabs / and any such)

 You must not frequently wash your ear with soap, as it leaves an alkaline residue and causes the trouble of neutralizing EAC’s acidic pH.

 Never swim in polluted water

 Make sure you empty water from your ear canals, every time after bathing or swimming

A low dryer’s blow is suggested to dry up your wet canal; however this is not a studied recommendation.

 As recommended, instillation of prophylactic eardrops is always good for post bathing or (especially) swimming.

 Using ear plugs are better prevention for swimmers. But others have recommended not using ear plugs; the reason being it can cause trauma in the ear canal that may ultimately lead to development of OE.

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