Making the Rounds: ear infections

Ear infections in little ones are associated with a fever and overall decline in demeanor and well-being.  Tony GiaQuinta, MD, PPG – Pediatrics, tells us more about how ear infections manifest in the body, why they’re more common in children and how they can be resolved.

Cause

An ear infection is an infection of the middle ear, behind the eardrum. Children get them far more often than adults because of differences in their anatomy. With children, the tube in the ear that helps drain moisture and other substances gets kinked so nothing can get out. That creates a breeding ground for bacteria in the membrane covering the eardrum.

Treatment

Sometimes an ear infection will resolve itself, but physicians treat ear infections so that the child will feel well again, typically with antibiotics. Amoxicillin is the first line of defense. It does take about three months for that fluid to drain off, so your physician might continue to monitor the ear to make sure the inflammation and fluid go away. If the ear is still red and painful, your physician might switch the antibiotic and wait 24 hours to see if the symptoms discontinue.

Prevention

There isn’t much a parent can do to prevent ear infections; Children are going to be exposed to that bacteria. Fortunately, a good number of those bacteria are found in the routine vaccinations we recommend for children, so observing those guidelines can be helpful.

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