Most often, ear infections are bacterial or viral infections in the middle ear behind the eardrum.
Children are more likely
to get ear infections than
adults due to their growing
These infections can be very painful for anyone because of the inflammation and fluid buildup in the middle ear. Symptoms may include ear pain, difficulty hearing, fever or yellowish fluid draining from the ear.
In addition to a physical exam of the ear, an instrument called a pneumatic otoscope may be used to diagnose an ear infection. The doctor will use this instrument to puff air against the eardrum. If the middle ear has fluid in it, the eardrum will move very little or not at all.
Treatment typically involves managing pain and monitoring the middle ear because these infections often clear up on their own. However, infants and severe cases may require antibiotic medication.
Ear tubes are another option if the infection does not clear up on its own, resolve with the addition of antibiotics or ear infections are recurrent. During the procedure called myringotomy, a surgeon will place tiny tubes in the eardrum to suction out fluid and allow for fluid drainage from the middle ear. Though recovery times vary, most patients may resume regular activities the next day.
Like any health condition, children with ear infection problems need to be monitored. Your doctor or specialist will likely prescribe regular ear exams and testing.