Understanding of the Ear System
The Ear system consists of the outer ear portion that leads from
the outside through the ear canal, right up to the Ear drum. This
path is lined by hair (cilia) that trap foreign particles and
insects. Also, like the nasal path that secretes mucus, this canal
also secretes wax to inhibit foreign particles from reaching the
The ear system also has an inner portion leading from the ear drum
and ending with the Eustachian tubes that open into the throat.
Now, because the ear drum is a curtain that separates the outer
ear from the inner ear system, there must be a way that pressure
is maintained in balance between the outer and inner ear, or else
this would result in problems such as pressure build up, loss of
hearing, dizziness and could even lead to related ear infections.
The way this pressure is maintained is through the openings of the
ear in the throat which expose the inner ear to the same
atmospheric pressure as the outer ear.
What is an
An ear infection is an inflammation of
the middle ear, usually caused by bacteria, that occurs when fluid
builds up behind the eardrum. Anyone can get an ear infection, but
children get them more often than adults. Three out of four
children will have at least one ear infection by their third
birthday. In fact, ear infections are the most common reason
parents bring their child to a doctor. The scientific name for an
ear infection is otitis media (OM).
are the symptoms of an ear infection?
There are three main types of ear infections. Each has a different
combination of symptoms.
•Acute otitis media (AOM) is the most common ear infection.
Parts of the middle ear are infected and swollen and fluid is
trapped behind the eardrum. This causes pain in the ear—commonly
called an earache. Your child might also have a fever.
.Otitis media with effusion
(OME) sometimes happens after an ear infection has run its
course and fluid stays trapped behind the eardrum. A child with
OME may have no symptoms, but a doctor will be able to see the
fluid behind the eardrum with a special instrument.
•Chronic otitis media with
effusion (COME) happens when fluid remains in the middle ear
for a long time or returns over and over again, even though there
is no infection. COME makes it harder for children to fight new
infections and also can affect their hearing.
can I tell if my child has an ear infection?
Most ear infections happen to children before they’ve learned how
to talk. If your child isn’t old enough to say “My ear hurts,”
here are a few things to look for:-
•Tugging or pulling at the ear(s)
•Fussiness and crying
•Fever (especially in infants and younger children)
•Fluid draining from the ear
•Clumsiness or problems with balance
•Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds
causes an ear infection?
An ear infection usually is caused by bacteria and often begins
after a child has a sore throat, cold, or other upper respiratory
infection. If the upper respiratory infection is bacterial, these
same bacteria may spread to the middle ear; if the upper
respiratory infection is caused by a virus, such as a cold,
bacteria may be drawn to the microbe-friendly environment and move
into the middle ear as a secondary infection. Because of the
infection, fluid builds up behind the eardrum.
The ear has three major parts: the outer ear, the middle
ear, and the inner ear.
The outer ear, also called the pinna, includes everything
we see on the outside—the curved flap of the ear leading down to
the earlobe—but it also includes the ear canal, which begins at
the opening to the ear and extends to the eardrum. The eardrum is
a membrane that separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
The middle ear—which is where ear infections occur—is
located between the eardrum and the inner ear. Within the middle
ear are three tiny bones called the malleus, incus, and stapes
that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear.
The bones of the middle ear are surrounded by air.
The inner ear contains the labyrinth, which help us keep
our balance. The cochlea, a part of the labyrinth, is a
snail-shaped organ that converts sound vibrations from the middle
ear into electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these
signals from the cochlea to the brain.
Other nearby parts of the ear also can be involved in ear
infections. The eustachian tube is a small passageway that
connects the upper part of the throat to the middle ear. Its job
is to supply fresh air to the middle ear, drain fluid, and keep
air pressure at a steady level between the nose and the ear.
Adenoids are small pads of tissue located behind the back of the
nose, above the throat, and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids
are mostly made up of immune system cells. They fight off
infection by trapping bacteria that enter through the mouth.
Why are children more likely than adults
to get ear infections?
There are several reasons why children are more likely than adults
to get ear infections.
Eustachian tubes are smaller and more level in children than they
are in adults. This makes it difficult for fluid to drain out of
the ear, even under normal conditions. If the eustachian tubes are
swollen or blocked with mucus due to a cold or other respiratory
illness, fluid may not be able to drain.
A child’s immune system isn’t as effective as an adult’s because
it’s still developing. This makes it harder for children to fight
As part of the immune system, the adenoids respond to bacteria
passing through the nose and mouth. Sometimes bacteria get trapped
in the adenoids, causing a chronic infection that can then pass on
to the eustachian tubes and the middle ear.
How is an
acute middle ear infection treated?
Many doctors will prescribe an
antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, to be taken over seven to 10
days. Your doctor also may recommend over-the-counter pain
relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or eardrops, to help
with fever and pain. (Because aspirin is considered a major
preventable risk factor for Reye’s syndrome, a child who has a
fever or other flu-like symptoms should not be given aspirin
unless instructed to by your doctor.)
If your doctor isn’t able to
make a definite diagnosis of OM and your child doesn’t have severe
ear pain or a fever, your doctor might ask you to wait a day to
see if the earache goes away. Sometimes ear pain isn’t caused by
infection, and some ear infections may get better without
antibiotics. Using antibiotics cautiously and with good reason
helps prevent the development of bacteria that become resistant to
If your doctor prescribes an
antibiotic, it’s important to make sure your child takes it
exactly as prescribed and for the full amount of time. Even though
your child may seem better in a few days, the infection still
hasn’t completely cleared from the ear. Stopping the medicine too
soon could allow the infection to come back. It’s also important
to return for your child’s follow-up visit, so that the doctor can
check if the infection is gone.
will it take my child to get better?
Your child should start feeling better
within a few days after visiting the doctor. If it’s been several
days and your child still seems sick, call your doctor. Your child
might need a different antibiotic. Once the infection clears,
fluid may still remain in the middle ear but usually disappears
within three to six weeks.
happens if my child keeps getting ear infections?
To keep a middle ear infection from
coming back, it helps to limit some of the factors that might put
your child at risk, such as not being around people who smoke and
not going to bed with a bottle. In spite of these precautions,
some children may continue to have middle ear infections,
sometimes as many as five or six a year. Your doctor may want to
wait for several months to see if things get better on their own
but, if the infections keep coming back and antibiotics aren’t
helping, many doctors will recommend a surgical procedure that
places a small ventilation tube in the eardrum to improve air flow
and prevent fluid backup in the middle ear. The most commonly used
tubes stay in place for six to nine months and require follow-up
visits until they fall out.
If placement of the tubes
still doesn’t prevent infections, a doctor may consider removing
the adenoids to prevent infection from spreading to the eustachian
infections be prevented?
Currently, the best way to prevent ear
infections is to reduce the risk factors associated with them.
Here are some things you might want to do to lower your child’s
risk for ear infections.
• Vaccinate your child against the flu. Make sure your child gets
the influenza, or flu, vaccine every year.
• It is recommended that you vaccinate your child with the
13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). The PCV13
protects against more types of infection-causing bacteria than the
previous vaccine, the PCV7. If your child already has begun PCV7
vaccination, consult your physician about how to transition to
PCV13. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
recommends that children under age 2 be vaccinated, starting at 2
months of age. Studies have shown that vaccinated children get far
fewer ear infections than children who aren’t vaccinated. The
vaccine is strongly recommended for children in daycare.
• Wash hands frequently. Washing hands prevents the spread of
germs and can help keep your child from catching a cold or the
• Avoid exposing your baby to cigarette smoke. Studies have shown
that babies who are around smokers have more ear infections.
• Never put your baby down for a nap, or for the night, with a
• Don’t allow sick children to spend time together. As much as
possible, limit your child’s exposure to other children when your
child or your child’s playmates are sick.
Infection Home Remedy
When used as a complimentary medicine along with the medication
suggested by the doctor, inner ear infection remedies are very
useful. Using some natural medication and herbs like chamomile and
colloidal silver can prevent the ear infection as well as pain
caused due to ear infection. Glycerin nasal spray, garlic oil, tea
tree oil, clove oil and olive oil are very useful home remedies.
It is often observed that mineral and vitamin deficiencies can
cause ear problems, hence it is good to include enough sources of
vitamin C, vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 in the diet.
Timely cleanup of the eardrums with clean ear buds may also
prevent any sort of ear infection that can be caused due to its
excess. It is also important to treat cold or flu infections as
they might cause ear infection. It is also suggested by the
doctors to chew limited amount of chewing gum, containing xylitol
to protect the ear from getting infected.