Children are more prone to getting ear infections because of a narrow Eustachian tube, frequent colds and an immature immune system. In fact, about 2 out of 3 times, children get ear infections.
Being a caretaker, you need to avoid the reasons behind frequent ear infections. Moreover, you should get your child checked by an ENT specialist if the child is excessively crying and has a fever.
Ear infections are identified with the part of the ear they occur in: inner, middle or outer ear. Each has different symptoms.
Let’s uncover what type of ear infections are there.
Types of Ear Infections:
Outer Ear Infection (Swimmer’s Ear or Otitis Externa)
Middle Ear Infections (AOM or OME)
Inner Ear Infection (Labyrinthitis)
1. Outer Ear Infection
The infection happens in the external ear due to long term exposure to moisture. When the outer ear stays wet for too long, it’s an invitation to viral and bacterial invasion.
The first symptom of swimmer’s ear is in the form of pain within a day or two of getting infected. It can get intense if the ear is pulled or while eating. Other symptoms include:
- Itching in the ear canal
- Redness in ear
- Swollen ear canal
- Hearing problem
- Fluids oozing out (either colourless or yellowish pus-like)
- Crystallization of drainage near the opening
You can consider taking antibiotics and pain killers, but for young kids, it’s better to consult with the doctor. Doctors may provide medication simply or clean up the external ear canal. Visit ENT clinic at your earliest before it affects your child’s hearing ability.
2. Middle Ear Infection
Middle ear infections occur due to viruses and bacteria. Upper respiratory tract infections or allergies can cause swelling that blocks the Eustachian tube, thus preventing the air from entering the middle ear. This vacuum sucks the germs and fluids up the nose and throat into the middle ear. As the tubes are blocked, the bacteria or virus grows instead of being drained out; leading to infections.
Acute Otitis Media (AOM) is such blocking of the fluids within the middle ear. While Otitis Media with Effusion (OME) is when the infection continues for some time and the fluid remains trapped.
Glue Ear is another form of this infection that occurs when the fluid remains trapped behind the eardrum for a long duration. Children getting frequent ear infections can suffer from glue ear. Glue ear can last between a few weeks to even months, leading to difficulty in the hearing of your child. In fact, it can impact language development of the child.
Symptoms of middle ear infection can take up to a week after a cold, flu, or an allergy to appear. The common symptoms of a middle ear infection are:
- Yellow, thick liquid drainage from the ear
- Mild to intense pain
- Loss of appetite
- Improper sleep
- Problems in hearing and pain or pressure in ear (in case of Glue Ear)
Usually, middle ear infections are difficult to identify at an early stage. An ENT specialist can blow a puff of air into the ear to see if the eardrum vibrates normally. If not, it’s due to the trapped fluid.
For pain relief, ibuprofen is used. As per the prescriptions of your doctor, you can get some antibiotics for repeatedly occurring of ear infections.
To prevent hearing loss due to glue ear, a regular hearing test can be availed conveniently.
3. Inner Ear Infection
Labyrinthitis is caused due to an inflammation within the inner ear. It occurs due to inflamed labyrinth, the part of the ear associated with hearing and balancing. Usually, inner ear infections occur due to respiratory diseases.
Symptoms of inner ear infection are:
- Hearing problem/loss
- Lack of balance
- Ringing in the ear
- Difficulty in focusing
Your doctor may prescribe OTC sedatives, corticosteroids, etc. for treatment. In such cases, a hearing test is important to check the condition. If you are unable to visit an ENT specialist nearby, Perfect Hearing also provides home visit service to those who want them in locations like Johor Bahru, Penang and KL. For more information, feel free to get in touch with us.