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Ear Infection Warning Signs and Solutions
By Ghazawan Kashat :: Friday, February 8, 2008 :: 50239 Views :: Article Rating :: Health & Fitness

It is of no surprise that all are susceptible to colds.   While some Chaldeans are accustomed to constant change of weather, there are plenty who are vulnerable.

Think of waking up to the traditional tea and toast one morning, and before you know it, you realize your nose is stuffy, your throat is scratchy and a sneeze is slowly sneaking up on you.  You try to reach for a tissue to catch it in time, and all the while feel the aches in your body, and the light-headed feeling that comes right before the big “Ah-Chu!” And it’s here: that nasty cold that’s been going around; the one your friend(s)/family has complained about all week.

Those that should really be watched over carefully are the younger Chaldean children. They are still building their immune system and other infections could easily develop alongside the cold, like ear infections.

Acute otitis media (abrupt middle ear infection) is most common between children ages six months to 2 years.  Being a viral (mostly) or bacterial infection of the middle ear, Acute Otitis Media is the most common infection in U.S. Children where antibiotics are prescribed.

Some children will be prone to an ear infection.  The reasons could be genetic, immunologic, infectious, or environmental.  Studies show that children who attend daycare, are in the vicinity of smokers or use a pacifier (past a particular stage) are more apt to get ear infections.

Ear infections often occur in children who have a cold, sore throat or allergies.  In most cases, an allergy or upper respiratory tract infection causes congestion and swelling.   This can make the nose and throat swell and block the tube that drains fluid out of the middle ear (Eustachian tube).  As that same fluid backs up behind the eardrum, germs spread to the middle ear causing ear pain and fever. 

This is referred to as “otitis media” (oh-Ti-tis Me-dea), literally defined from medical terminology as “inflammation of the middle ear.”  The “acute” term added is just used to describe the quick onset of this infection.

Like many other infections or diseases, there are clues that the child has an ear infection. Chaldean parents or older siblings need to pay close attention if they suspect their child or sibling has a middle ear infection.

Here are a few signs to look for:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Complaining of ear pain or hearing loss
  • Night-waking more frequently
  • Unwillingness to lie flat
  • Ear drainage – Fluid coming out of one or both ears.
  • Not eating as much as usual
  • Cold symptoms or Fever – keep in mind that ear infections are almost always preceded by a cold.
  • Earache (Ear pain is less common in children younger than two years, but more common in children older than six years and adults.)

If you believe your child might have an ear infection, call your doctor.  The doctor will use a special tool, known as an Otoscope, to look inside your child’s ears to see if they are, in fact, infected.

Every doctor’s goal, when it comes to Acute Otitis Media, is to treat the symptoms and reduce the recurrence of the ear infection.  Approximately 90 percent of children with Acute Otitis Media cure themselves within seven to 14 days.  Thus, antibiotics should not routinely be given initially for all children.

TREATING THE SYMPTOMS

Over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (one brand: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (one brand: Motrin) can help with fever and pain.  Managing the pain is important in the first two days, but do not give your child aspirin. 

Some Chaldean parents and grandparents may apply an old family remedy to ease the pain: Placing a warm cloth or hot water bottle around the ear can reduce the pain.  There are also eardrops made especially for earaches (one brand: Auralgan), which can be helpful.
To aid with nasal congestion, Saline nose drops and a humidifier are wonderful.  Remember cold medicines containing antihistamines or decongestants should not be used in children younger than six years of age.  Also, it is good to note that corticosteroid use has no benefit to acute otitis media.

With loving care and tender treatment, your child should start to feel better within a few days after visiting the doctor. 

If the doctor has already prescribed an antibiotic and your child is not yet feeling better, you may need a different medicine.  Most importantly, notify the doctor immediately if the child starts vomiting, gets a high fever, feels pain inside or behind the ear, or headaches.

SEVEN STEPS TO PREVENTING EAR INFECTIONS

Chaldean children who have had several ear infections already or you wish to lower the risk of getting them consider the following:

1. Breastfeeding. There is no doubt, according to medical literature, that prolonged (year or more) breastfeeding significantly lowers your child's chances of getting ear infections.

2. Daycare setting. Continuous exposure to other children increases the risk that your child will catch more colds, and consequently more ear infections. Crowded daycare settings are a set up for germ sharing. If possible, switch your child to a small, home daycare setting. This will help lower the risk.

3. Control allergies. Allergies contribute to your child's runny nose and, consequently, ear infections.   

4. Feed baby upright. Lying down while bottle-feeding can cause the milk to irritate the Eustachian tube, which can contribute to ear infections.

5. Keep the nose clear. When a runny nose and cold start, do your best to keep the nose clear by using steam, saline nose drops, and suctioning.

6. Cigarette smoke. There is strong evidence that smoking irritates baby's nasal passage, which leads to Eustachian tube dysfunction.

7. Eat more raw fruits and vegetables.  These can greatly boost your child's immune system and help fight off infections.

No one can prevent all ear infections, but parents and older siblings can reduce the odds by understanding what is both good and bad for any given situation. 

Lastly, the information provided is intended to help you understand the causes and symptoms of an ear infection.  This article should not, in any way, replace a professional visit to your family physician. 

 


Dr. Ghazawan Kashat, MD is a graduate of both medical schools and residency programs from Iraq and the United States.  He graduated Tikrit University Medical School in 1995, General Medicine Residency in Baghdad in 1998 and in the United States he attended Grace University College of Medicine in Boca Raton, Florida, graduating in 2003 and completing the family practice residency program at Bon Secours Hospital in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  

Dr. Kashat is currently an attending physician at St. John Health System in Michigan, where he also upholds an established clinic. He is a published author and a feature columnist for www.CHALDEAN.org in the Health & Fitness section. 

To contact Dr. Kashat, please e-mail info@chaldean.org in care of (c/o) Dr. Ghazwan Kashat.