November 25, 2006

Childhood illness - Ear Infection


An ear infection is when the lining/membrane of the middle part of the ear becomes inflamed, causing a hole to form in the eardrum, from which various problems within the ear result, including diminished hearing, inflammation, pain and dizziness.

Ear infections are usually the result of a respiratory or sinus infection, as the nasal & ear passages become congested and inflamed.Virus and bacterial infections can also cause ear infections. An other cause of ear infections is when the inner ear does not function properly and excess fluid is produced.

Symptoms of an ear infection include pus, excess fluid, and inflammation present or draining from within the ear. Hearing loss & pain may be present as well, and fever as well. Young children may demonstrate fussiness, insomnia, difficulty hearing and/or loss of appetite. If not properly treated, the ear infection could progress in severity causing the eardrum to rupture, which is intensely painful and if not treated, can mean permanent hearing loss.

Studies show that about 80% of ear infections heal on their own, but if the infection persists past a period of a week or two, it is advised to visit an ENT or your child's primary physician. After being diagnosed with an ear infection, your doctor will probably prescribe necessary antibiotics to fight the bacteria causing the infection. Ear Infections are not contagious but sometimes the bacterium that can cause the ear infection itself can be contagious. A good rule of thumb is to basically keep your child away from other children if you suspect any infection is present.