Middle Ear Infections

Middle Ear Infections: Putting It All Together

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to middle ear infection.

  • Otitis media is the medical term for inflammation or infection of the middle ear.
  • In babies and toddlers, the eustachian tube is typically shorter, narrower, and less rigid than in an adult, which means that bacteria can more easily travel from the back of the nose and throat into the middle ear.
  • Treatment to manage the various forms of middle ear infection includes pain relief, antibiotics, and sometimes surgical procedures such as myringotomy or tympanostomy (inserting tubes in the ears).
  • Myringotomy with or without tympanostomy is a surgical procedure that involves making a small incision in the eardrum to draw out fluid.
  • Myringotomy is usually considered if the child continues to have ear infections, despite repeated treatment with antibiotics.
  • A new procedure called OtoLAM involves making a tiny hole in the eardrum with a laser to allow drainage.
  • Because most infections will eventually clear up regardless of treatment, some doctors prefer to let an infection run its course without taking any action. However, this approach is not widely embraced because it does not alleviate the sick child’s pain or the parents’ anxiety.
  • If left untreated, frequent ear infections can have serious consequences.

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