Chronic Middle Ear infections in Children

Otitis Media is the term for inflammation of the middle ear or an “ear infection.”  It occurs when bacteria or viruses are present due to a cold, upper respiratory infection or allergies which can then cause the middle ear space to fill with pus or fluid. Symptoms may include fever, ear pain, and/or decreased hearing. When this fluid or mucous behind the ear drum persists or rapidly returns, it can be called “chronic otitis media” or a chronic ear infection. This is a relatively common problem in children, due to their immature immune systems and the size and shape of their eustachian tube. The eustachian tube is a small opening or passageway that connects the middle ear to the back part of the nose and throat. It functions to drain fluid from the middle ear and equalize pressure between the nose and the ear.

Chronic Middle Ear infections in Children

Chronic ear infections in pediatric patients can sometimes affect their hearing.  The buildup of fluid or pus can block the sound from reaching the inner ear.  If hearing is decreased, it may affect behavior, speech or school performance.

A common treatment for the chronic ear infections are what are called “tubes” (also known as pressure equalization tubes or ventilation tubes). The “tubes” allow the fluid/pus that is filling the middle ear to be drained, which alleviates discomfort and often improves hearing. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, “The average age for ear tube insertion is one to three years old. Inserting ear tubes may:

  • Reduce the risk of future ear infection;
  • Restore hearing loss caused by middle ear fluid;
  • Improve speech problems and balance problems; and
  • Improve behavior and sleep problems caused by chronic ear infections; and
  • Help children do their best in school. “ (2).

Please make an appointment or consult with your physician if you would like you or your child to be evaluated for chronic ear infections.

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