Otitis externa or outer ear canal infection usually results from swimming and water remaining in the ear afterwards and ear probing. This may be caused by bacteria or fungi. The outer ear becomes red, warm and painful.
Otitis media or middle ear infection affects the air-filled area behind your ear drum (tympanic membrane). This area houses 3 small bones that connect the eardrum to your hearing apparatus behind. These bones help amplify or reduce the volume of sound you hear.
This is usually the result of other infections like flu, cold or allergies that spread through a thin tube called the Eustachian tube that connects the nasal cavity to your middle ear and helps to balance the pressure on both sides of your ear drum. This tube can be equated to the port or the hole you find on your box speakers that help balance pressure on both sides of the diaphragm. These tubes also help to keep the air in the cavity refreshed and drain secretions from the middle ear.
When this tube gets blocked, the fluid and pressure build up in the middle ear. This fluid can get infected and cause symptoms. In children, this tube is narrow, soft and straight and is more prone to getting blocked and infected.
Enlargement of Adenoid glands that are near the opening of these tubes can also contribute to them getting blocked often
The infection that develops may be bacterial or viral or there may be no infection at all:
Otitis media with discharge, swelling and fluid buildup without infection
Chronic (recurring) otitis media with discharge occurs or fluid remains in the middle ear and symptoms keep returning without infection
Chronic suppurative otitis media which has an infection and may end up damaging the eardrum leading to discharge coming out of the ear canal.
Pain in ear
Irritable or crying (in children)
Feeding issues (in children)
Discharge from the ear
Abnormal ringing sensation in the ear
Children between 6 months and 2 years of age
Children who visit child care facilities with other children (Cross Infections)
Bottle feeding while lying down
Seasonal factors, Allergies
Poor air quality
Adenoid or Sinus infections
It is important to understand that although this is a common condition, leaving it untreated, especially when it is recurring can lead to serious consequences that affect the quality of life like:
Language development & Speech problems
Hole or tear in the eardrum
Facial Nerve paralysis
Spread of infection to the bone or brain
Stay safe from the common cold and other illnesses
Hygiene and hand washing habits in children
Avoid smoke in the environment
Breastfeeding till at least 6 months of age (Immunity of the children are better)
Avoid ear cleaning and probing
Your doctor will evaluate the severity of the condition, and the chance of recurrence and provide you with the right medication or suggest corrections, as per your child’s situation, age and weight. It is important to get this evaluated by your doctor.