Understanding Otitis Media

It is common for toddlers and infants to experience fluid in their ears. However, it is not normal for your child to develop an ear infection. On the contrary, any form of fluid in your child’s ear should be a point of concern as a continuous presence of fluid may cause your child to have speech delay. This form of delay may be severe to the extent of requiring the attention of a speech delay therapist. Medically, these infections are known as otitis media, a term used to describe an infection of the middle ear that is accompanied by fluid in the ear. According to various research studies, a majority of children will at least have an ear infection before they reach their first birthday. In addition, these infections are common in children compared to adults. 

When fluid keeps building up in the middle ear, it becomes challenging for the child to hear. This is mainly caused by the inability of tiny bones in the ear to move. As a result, any form of sound is not conducted, and as such, hearing is impaired until the fluid clears the middle ear. 

Signs and Symptoms

Children with otitis media are characterized by continuous crying, on and off fevers, trouble sleeping, not responding to sound, or delayed response. In severe circumstances, fluid may start draining from the ears. If by any chance, your child is presenting the aforementioned signs, it is highly advisable to seek prompt medical attention. 

Treatment

The type of treatment recommended by your doctor may vary based on the severity of the infection and how frequently your child gets the infection. In most instances, treatment is done through the prescription of drugs or surgery to drain off the fluid. However, if the presence of the fluid is not severe, a doctor may recommend the waiting method form of treatment where the fluids drain out without any treatment or intervention. 

Impact of Recurring Fluids in your child’s ears

When your child has fluid in his/her ear (s), they cannot hear and comprehend sounds. This can lead to the occurrence of a conductive hearing loss. The severity of the fluid may impact the child in different ways. In some cases, your child may not experience any form of hearing loss. On the other hand, your child may experience moderate hearing loss. Complete hearing loss may occur in severe cases. An important aspect to remember is that recurrent fluid accumulation may lead to permanent hearing loss. Additionally, children with recurrent ear infections may not develop language and speech infections at the normal rate as children with no ear infections. In such circumstances, it is usually advisable to get professional help from a speech-language pathologist. Therefore, it is highly advisable to seek medical attention from a pediatric ENT when your child starts to get recurring infections. 

How to Prevent Ear Infections

While it’s impossible to prevent these infections, there are things you can do to minimize their occurrence. Some of them are as follows.

Always keep your babysitting at an angle of 45 degrees when drinking. This reduces the probability of fluid settling in the Eustachian tube.

Always breastfeed your child to prevent the occurrence of ear infections. This boosts your child’s immune system, thus fighting off infections.

Boost your child’s immune system by giving him a balanced diet.

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