In order to accurately answer this question, one must first understand what an ear infection is.
Ear infections affect both adults and kids, but children are highly susceptible to this medical problem because of their fledgling immune systems.
Experts estimate that five in every six children get at least one bout of ear infection by the time they are three years old. In many cases, when a parent brings a child to a doctor with the symptoms outlined below, the problem often turns out to be an ear infection.
General Symptoms of an Ear Infection
The symptoms of an ear infection could be a fever, earache, or ear discharge.
Sometimes, however, the infections are asymptomatic, so it is important to be observant of small changes in your child’s behavior such as loss of appetite or excessive crying.
Contact your pediatrician or primary care physician if you are concerned at all because a delay or failure to diagnose and treat an in-ear infection could delay speech and language development in your child. In severe and chronic cases, it can even cause deafness.
The Most Problematic Type of Ear Infection
The most problematic type of ear infection is referred to as Otitis Media with Effusion (OME), also known as a silent ear infection.
Fluid collects in the middle ear as a result of an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or sore throat, and causes an ear infection.
Your child may have no outward signs of an ear infection, but the condition could be running its course, causing swelling in the eardrum and interfering with the normal function of the ear.
If a virus or bacteria is the cause of the throat infection or cold, these pathogens might spread to the affected ear and lead to acute otitis media or chronic otitis media with effusion.
Signs of a Silent Ear Infection
A silent ear infection is generally prevalent in babies aged 6 months to three years old.
It is more common in boys than girls, and most of its symptoms (if any) usually show in the winter months.
Possible symptoms of a silent ear infection include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Constant rubbing of the ear
- Signs of reduced hearing function
- Delays in language and speech development
How is an Ear Infection Diagnosed and Treated?
It can be risky to wait too long for a silent ear infection to clear up on its own but there are guidelines as to how long is safe to wait. Your pediatrician or primary care doctor will discuss this with you.
It is very important to take note of changes in your child’s behavior. As mentioned before, if the ear infection is not treated it could develop into an acute or chronic case of an ear infection.
Schedule a visit to your child’s pediatrician as soon as you see the signs.
Your doctor will review your child's medical history and inspect their outer ear and eardrum with an otoscope. An otoscope is a lighting object that helps the specialist to see the extent of infection.
Your doctor may also use a pneumatic otoscope to test the eardrum movement.
Treatment for silent ear infections includes the use of antibiotic medication and constant monitoring.
For a recurrent or chronic ear infection, surgery may be a recommended intervention measure.
The surgery process could involve draining the fluid from the eardrum to restore hearing by adding tubes or removal of infected lymph tissue.
You Can Choose Where Your Child’s Procedure is Performed
You have the right to choose where your child’s procedure is performed.
Inpatient care is not typically needed for these types of surgeries.
Ask your doctor if your child’s surgery can be performed at an Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) like Iowa City ASC. Procedures performed at ASCs help reduce cost, and your loved one receives personalized care that leads to better outcomes.
LEARN WHEN TO SEE AN ENT SPECIALIST FOR
YOUR CHILD'S EAR INFECTIONS