Ear infections are a fairly common diagnosis in the field of otology. The first step in treating an ear infection is to locate the infection. Ear infections can occur in either the outer ear, the middle ear, or both. An outer ear infection affecting the ear canal and external ear is called Otitis externa. Otitis media is the term for an infection in the middle ear (behind the eardrum).
Symptoms of an ear infection include:
It can be difficult to detect an ear infection in a young child because it’s hard for them to express the symptoms they’re experiencing
If your child is suffering from an ear infection, they may tug on their ears, cry often, be irritable, or have difficulty sleeping. Children can develop ear infections from recently having a cold or if they are currently ill. Dr. Nazarian has the appropriate tools to easily check your child’s ear and determine whether there is an infection or not.
The most common type of ear infection is called otitis media. It is caused by swelling and infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is located just behind the eardrum. Although infection can happen in any part of the ear, the middle ear is most common. Otitis media usually occurs when the Eustachian tube, the tube that drains middle ear contents, becomes inflamed, preventing drainage. The Eustachian tube can become inflamed simply from allergies or a cold. The fluid that remains in the middle ear can then become infected and cause pain and hearing loss.
Typically, Dr. Nazarian can diagnose your ear infection using an otoscope, a tool that shines a beam of light to help visualize and examine the condition of the ear canal and eardrum. While it’s typically not a common practice among general ENT doctors, an otologist will often use a specialized microscope to examine the ear in more detail. A hearing test may additionally be performed for recurring or chronic ear infections.
The first step in treatment is a proper diagnosis. The symptoms of an ear infection coincide with other ailments, which can lead to an incorrect treatment plan. If the ear infection is located in the outer ear or ear canal, typically the best treatment is antibiotic drops. However, if the ear canal is extremely swollen, Dr. Nazarian may need to insert a small cotton stent to allow the medication to treat the entire ear canal.
For a middle ear infection, Dr. Nazarian will typically prescribe oral antibiotics and decongestants. Although, if the infection is persistent, or if you need to fly and do not have enough time for oral medication to kick in, a ventilation tube may be needed to drain the ear. This procedure is easy to perform, has minimal pain, and is done in the office under local anesthesia.
Typically, ear infections resolve within 3-4 days of starting a treatment plan. Schedule an appointment with an otologist if ear infection symptoms last more than 3 days, as this may be a sign of a more serious problem.