Middle Ear Infection Discussion

Infections in the middle ear are very common in young children. The medical term for the condition is Acute Otitis Media or Acute Suppurative Otitis Media. The condition is usually seen in the child who has problems with fluid in the ear. Children with enlarged adenoids, chronic sinusitis or allergies can have problems with fluid in the middle ear. Children with Downs syndrome and cleft palates also have problems with fluid in the ears. Once the child gets an infection in the nose or throat, the infection can spread to the ear. The bacteria which causes the infection grows very rapidly in the middle ear fluid.

The child will complain of pain in the ear, hearing loss and may have fever or chills. If the infection progresses, the ear drum may rupture and drain to the outside of the ear. On examination the ear drum will appear red, bulging and there may be clear, yellow or greenish drainage. If the ear drum ruptures there will be drainage which may be bloody. Usually these children appear very ill.  Their body temperature is usually elevated (101° or higher). They may have a runny nose and sore throat along with the ear pain.

Most of these types of infections are easily treated with a course of antibiotics and decongestants.  It usually takes the medication a few days for the symptoms to improve. Once the infection is cleared up the child may have fluid in the ears for several weeks. Most ear doctors agree that if a child has more than three to four ear infections per year then the child should be considered for middle ear ventilation tube placement. Some of the other indications for ear tubes are infection or fluid that doesn’t clear with adequate medical treatment.