As winter is upon us, along with the cold and flu season, I thought I would write about a common ailment that results from either a bacteria or a virus, the common ear infection.
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear, the area just behind the eardrum. It happens when the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the nose, get blocked with fluid. Mucus, pus, and bacteria can also pool behind the eardrum, causing pressure and pain.
Ear infections usually start with a cold. Adults can get ear infections, but they are most common in infants and young children. This is because a child’s Eustachian tubes are narrower and shorter than an adults’.
It used to be common for doctors to give antibiotics to children with ear infections, but now they tend to take a wait and see approach for the first 72 hours.
There are two main types of ear infections
Acute otitis media and otitis media with effusion, where fluid remains trapped in the ear even after the infection is gone.
Acute otitis media
- causes pain
- difficulty hearing
- sore throat
- neck pain
- nasal congestion
- inging, buzzing, or other noise in the ear
If a child is too young to talk, signs of an ear infection can include crying, irritability, trouble sleeping, and pulling on the ears.
Ear infections happen when the Eustachian tubes are blocked.
- a cold or flu
- exposure to cigarette smoke
- infected or overgrown adenoids
They happen most often in the winter. They are not contagious, but a cold may spread among a group of children and cause some of them to get ear infections.
Tips to reduce your child’s risk of ear infection
- don’t expose your child to second-hand smoke
- keep your child away from other children who are sick
- breastfeeding for at least 6 months can make a child less prone to ear infections
- don’t use a pacifier
Applying a warm, moist cloth over the affected ear may help relieve pain. Another remedy is to crush garlic in olive oil and rub the garlic-infused oil with a Q-tip into the ear (be careful not to get any of the garlic on the Q-tip and to not rupture the eardrum).
Acupuncture is very effective in treating both children and adults who suffer from a persistent ear infection or chronic ear infections. It helps by unblocking the Eustachian tubes and draining the excess accumulation of fluid that builds up in the ear. It also helps increase the body’s own natural immune system response.