The fluid is drained from ears to the back of the throat by the Eustachian tube. When this tube gets clogged it can lead to otitis media. In this condition the middle part of the ear is filled with fluid which increases the risk of ear infections.Otitis media is an extremely common condition. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, approximately 90 percent of children will have otitis media at least once before they begin school.
Not all children with this disorder have symptoms which is why some children with otitis media may not feel sick. Symptoms are often mild or minimal and can vary depending upon the age of the child.
One of the most common symptoms is hearing problems. In younger children hearing problems can be detected through behavior changes. For example, children may turn the television up louder than usual. They may also tug or pull on their ears. While older children and adults who have otitis media may experience muffled sound or there may be the feeling that the ear is filled with fluid.
Children are more likely to suffer from otitis media due to their short ear tube and small openings. And for the same reason they have high risk of clogging and infection. In addition, children’s immune systems may not be as well developed which makes it harder for them to fight off ear infections that can lead to otitis media.
Otitis media is not an ear infection but the two can be related. For example, an ear infection can affect how well fluid flows through the middle ear. Even after the infection is gone, fluid may remain.
In addition, a blocked tube and excess fluid can provide the ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Therefore otitis media can lead to an ear infection. Allergies, air irritants, and respiratory infections can also lead to otitis media. Changes in air pressure can close the Eustachian tube and affect the flow of the fluids. These might be caused by being on an airplane or even by drinking while lying down.
Otitis media not only causes severe pain but may result in serious complications if it is not treated. An untreated infection can travel from the middle ear to the nearby parts of the head, including the brain. Although the hearing loss caused by otitis media is usually temporary, untreated otitis media may lead to permanent hearing impairment. Persistent fluid in the middle ear and chronic otitis media can reduce a child's hearing at a time that is critical for speech and language development. Children who have early hearing impairment from frequent ear infections are likely to have speech and language disabilities.
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