Ear Infections in Children
It is very common for children to get ear infections. The causes of such ear infections typically include bacteria or viruses that get inside the ear. Some of the symptoms include irritability, difficulty sleeping, tugging or pulling at one or both ears, fever, fluid draining from ear, and loss of balance. In many cases, antibiotics are used to treat the infection, but if a child has multiple infections, surgery may be required.
In children, ear infections are quite common. There are two types of ear infections in children: otitis media and otitis externa (also known as swimmer's ear). This eMedTV article will focus on the more common of the two: otitis media.
Otitis media is an ear infection or inflammation of the middle ear. This inflammation often begins when infections that cause sore throats, colds, or other respiratory or breathing problems spread to the middle ear. These infections can be viral or bacterial infections.
Seventy-five percent of children experience at least one episode of otitis media by their third birthday. Almost half of these children will have three or more ear infections during their first three years of life. Although otitis media is primarily a disease of infants and young children, it can also affect adults.
Otitis media is commonly referred to as a(n):
- Middle ear infection
- Inner ear infection
- Ear infection.
The ear consists of three major parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear includes the pinna -- the visible part of the ear -- and the ear canal. The outer ear extends to the tympanic membrane, or eardrum, which separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
The middle ear is an air-filled space that is located behind the eardrum. The middle ear contains three tiny bones: the malleus, incus, and stapes, which transmit sound from the eardrum to the inner ear.
The inner ear contains the hearing and balance organs. The cochlea contains the hearing organ, which converts sound into electrical signals. These signals are associated with the origin of impulses, which are then carried by nerves to the brain, where their meanings are appreciated.