E Is For Ear Infections

3rd November 2011

With the wind whipping up and the cold mornings truely here, so do the middle ear infections.

These infections can caused by a virus or bacteria and are called otitis media, in medical terms. Often the bacteria or viruses travel up the tube from the nose or throat, particularly if they are full of germs from a cold or sore throat.

They are more common in babies and children under 6 years old as this tube is smaller and more horizontal so the germs can get up to the middle ear quicker and the tube is more likely to get blocked.

So what are signs and symptoms of a middle ear infection? Ear pain in one or both ears is likely (especially when the person lies down). A little child may not be able to tell you that their ear hurts but you may notice they rub or pull their ear. Fever, grumpiness and tiredness usually are present and sometimes nausea and vomiting.

What should you do if you suspect an ear infection? Call the doctor during office hours and get some advice. This may involve a visit to the doctor so they can examine the ear drum and give some medicine to help reduce the inflammation or help fight the infection. Remember that if it is ‘only’ a viral infection then anti-biotics will not help and may encourage the growth of super-resistant germs.

When should you go to the hospital as an emergency? If the person is very unwell; is inconsolable with the pain; has a severe headache or stiff neck; has an injury to the ear; or is feeling dizzy and can’t balance properly.

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