Recurrent Pediatric Otitis Media Infections: Symptoms And Causes

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Otitis media infections, also known as middle ear infections, are very common, and while they can occur in adults, children are most vulnerable. While some children may only experience a single bout of otitis media, others may experience frequent infections. Before your child's pediatrician can recommend an effective plan of care, the cause of your child's recurrent ear infections needs to be determined. Here are some symptoms and causes of recurrent otitis media infections in children.

Otitis Media Symptoms

The most common otitis media symptom is ear pain. It occurs most frequently when the child is lying down, however, it can occur anytime. Other symptoms include persistent ear tugging, fussiness, and crying. In babies, equilibrium problems may cause dizziness and balance problems, and fever.

Loss of appetite, headache, fatigue, hearing loss, and ear drainage may also occur in children with otitis media infections. Giving your child pediatric ibuprofen or acetaminophen can bring symptomatic relief, however, they will need to visit the pediatrician for an examination and further treatment, if warranted. 

Causes Of Recurrent Otitis Media

Most causes of recurrent otitis media are related to bacterial or viral infections. Allergies can also cause recurrent bouts of otitis media because they can promote nasal passage inflammation.

When the nasal passages are chronically inflamed as a result of allergies, both sinus infections and ear infections may be more likely to develop. This happens because nasal inflammation prevents the effective drainage of mucus. When mucus is unable to drain, infection-causing bacteria can proliferate inside the sinuses. Allergies can also cause eustachian tube and throat swelling, which may also heighten your child's risk for recurrent middle ear infections.

If the pediatrician determines that your child's ear infections are bacterial, antibiotics will be prescribed. Conversely, if the infection is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not be useful, and therefore, will not be prescribed.

Treating allergies with oral antihistamines, decongestants, drinking plenty of fluids, inhaling steam, and flushing the nasal passages with saline solution can lower the risk of recurrent otitis media infections.

To make an accurate diagnosis, the pediatrician will take a detailed oral history from you about your child and then they will examine the ear canal with a lighted otoscope to assess for eardrum for inflammation, redness, and fluid buildup.

If your child has repeated ear infections, make an appointment with your child's pediatrician. When otitis media infections are diagnosed and treated quickly, your child will be less likely to experience complications such as secondary infections of the throat, eardrum scarring, and permanent hearing loss. 

For more information, contact a local pediatrician