Middle Ear Infections in Children Can Cause Permanent Hearing Loss
Various problems related to the ears are quite common among all but are even more prominent in children. Ear infections are one of the most common childhood problems which many times will require a consultation from an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist.
The structure of the human ear is somewhat complex. It is composed of three parts; the outer, middle and inner ear. Infections in the inner ear are the toughest to treat. Doctors can diagnose the problem based on signs and symptoms. The line of treatment depends on the severity of the problem, the age of the patient, and complexity. Most ear infections can be treated in an outpatient setting. However, sometimes surgical intervention is required to properly treat inner ear infections.
Middle ear infections are more common, and should not be treated lightly as they can eventually lead to permanent hearing loss. They can typically be treated with antibiotics, which will require a proper diagnosis from your doctor.
Middle Ear Infections
The Middle Ear is called Otitis Media and consists of three important parts:
- The “Eardrum” or Tympanic Membrane – a thin membrane which vibrates when sound waves enter into the ear.
- Auditory Ossicles – the tiny bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrums to the inner ear.
- Eustachian Tube – the small tube which allows accumulation of fluid in the ear that gets drained inside the ear into the back of the throat.
Statistics show that kids suffer the majority of ear infections due to the common cough and cold. When untreated, infection reaches to the Eustachian tube and blocks it. Since the fluid gets trapped in the middle ear, bacteria and viruses can grow at an alarming rate. The trapped fluid puts pressure against the eardrum which can result in extreme pain. In addition, there is typically a feeling of muffled hearing. ENT Specialists can prescribe the proper antibiotics to treat the infection. Middle ear infections are quite painful, and sometimes trigger fever, diarrhea, and minor to severe hearing loss.
In some cases, symptoms like pain go away after treatment. However, the fluid can remain trapped in the middle ear. This can cause an accumulation of fluid in the middle ear without having any symptoms. ENT Specialists refer to this as OME — or Otitis Media with Effusion. It may last for a few weeks.
If your child is frequently troubled with the problem of OME, it could result in permanent loss of hearing which affects linguistic development. Hence, it is greatly important to seek out the best treatment as soon as possible. According to renowned ENT Specialists, ear infections are one of the biggest reasons behind the loss of hearing in children. These should not be taken lightly.