Chronic otitis media’ and ‘mastoiditis’ both pertain to medical issues of the Ear, specifically the middle ear section. It is commonly occurring disease in human beings. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians says that it is the most common cause for antibiotic prescriptions issued in the US, and that by the age of 3 up to a high 80% of infants are diagnosed with it. Although, a middle ear infection is possible to be developed at any age, it's much less common in older children and adults. Ear infections are not contagious i.e. they do not spread from person to person and occur most commonly alongwith a cold.
There are 3 kinds of Acute or Chronic ‘Otitis Media’ that are broadly divided into:
As a result of this, the symptoms for each are also different and must be treated and defined individually.
In the case of non-infected chronic otitis media, the tympanic membrane is damaged because of a persistent hole or perforation in it. Here, there is no infection or effusion and therefore, it is hard to immediately diagnose the condition. In many cases, patients can live normal lives for years with no symptoms or with only a mild hearing loss that may not be easily noted. In some, there maybe mild pain experienced and some discomfort in the ear.
With regards to chronic otitis media, the University of Maryland Medical Centre suggests that the initial signs to watch out for are:
With babies and infants, it is often hard to tell what is wrong with them as they are unable to communicate their exact discomfort. You will notice irritability and a change in their normal mood and behaviour. Most likely, they will have a fever. Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) medical experts state some of the noticeable symptoms to be as follows:
In older children, the infection is noticed to begin after the child has had a cold for a few days.
If there is fluid build-up in the ear, the infection is often termed ‘Serous Otitis Media’ referring to Serous meaning Fluid. This may happen when the Eustachian tube gets blocked and the pressure in the middle ear drops. The child may feel some hearing loss and deafness in the infected ear, which is usually temporary.
If there is a long-lasting ear infection, the cause is usually due to a perforation in the eardrum. This could be due to any of the following:
These chronic ear infections where the eardrum is perforated also accelerate after swimming and bathing when water enters the ear canal.
In extreme cases, long-lasting infections that recur can damage the bones of the middle ear, leading to a more long-term hearing loss. The more serious complications can spread to the surrounding organs of the inner ear, face and brain and thereby, cause inflammations therein.
Lastly, it is important to consult your doctor if any of these symptoms and pain last for over 24 hours. If your infant or child displays pain and liquid effusion, it is necessary to visit a medical expert to conduct a more detailed clinical examination.
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