Ear Infections in Children
Ear infections are the most common illnesses in babies and young children. Most often, the infection affects the middle ear and is called otitis media. Eustachian tubes connect the middle portion of the ear to the back of the throat. These tubes often stop functioning as a result of an upper respiratory infection (cold or flu). Once this happens, a pressure and subsequent fluid “backup” occurs in the middle ear. This can affect hearing, because sound cannot get through all that fluid. If your child is experiencing speech delay, you need to look for signs of an infection.
Signs of infection in young children:
- Tugging at ears
- Crying more than usual
- Ear drainage
- Trouble sleeping
- Balance difficulties
- Hearing problems
Often, ear infections go away on their own, but your health care provider may recommend pain relievers. Severe infections and infections in young babies may require antibiotics. Children who get frequent infections may need surgery to place small tubes inside their ears. The tubes relieve pressure in the ears so that the child can hear again.
Myringotomy Tubes (a.k.a. Ear Tubes)
To keep a middle ear infection from coming back, it helps to limit some of the factors that might put your child at risk, such as not being around people who smoke and not going to bed with a bottle. In spite of these precautions, some children may continue to have middle ear infections, sometimes as many as five or six a year. Your doctor may want to wait for several months to see if things get better on their own but, if the infections keep coming back and antibiotics aren’t helping, many doctors will recommend a surgical procedure that places a small ventilation tube in the eardrum to improve air flow and prevent fluid backup in the middle ear. The most commonly used tubes stay in place for six to nine months and require follow-up visits until they fall out.
If placement of the tubes still doesn’t prevent infections, a doctor may consider removing the adenoids to prevent infection from spreading to the eustachian tubes.
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At Boulder Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, we provide the highest quality patient care in a friendly, professional atmosphere. We emphasize personalized customer service, availability, efficiency, honesty and integrity, and attention to detail. We strive to do things the right way at every level, all the time.
If your child frequently suffers from ear infections or is showing signs of hearing loss, balance difficulties, trouble sleeping or speech development issues, schedule an appointment with one of our caring and experienced ENT specialists for a full evaluation today!