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|What is Otitis Media with Effusion?
Otitis media with effusion is a common ear infection that usually bothers children. Effusion is just another word for fluids. So if there are excess fluids in your middle ear and your inner ear is inflamed, you have otitis media with effusion. There's generally no obvious symptom of this ear problem. Only check ups can determine the extent of ear fluids production in the middle ear.
In rare cases, adults also suffer from otitis media with effusion. These fluids usually vanish on its own and do not require antibiotic treatment unless the fluids persist. But bacteria may lodge in the effusion, resulting in other ear infections.
|What causes Otitis Media with Effusion?
Otitis media with effusion is often followed by Acute otitis media. Acute otitis media is the most common form of middle ear infection caused by the development of excessive fluids in the ear. Its symptoms are pain, possible light fever, as well as redness of the eardrum.
|Factors that may cause susceptibility to Otitis Media with Effusion
Colds or upper respiratory disorders patients
Colds and upper respiratory infections usually affect the function of the Eustachian tube, resulting in ear infections. Unlike the nose, your middle ear does not drain these fluids as easy. Fluids may as result build up, causing otitis media with effusion.
Shorter or narrower Eustachian tube
The Eustachian tube is a small canal that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. A child's Eustachian tube is relatively shorter and narrower, that's why children are more prone to ear infections than adults. Overweight people also have bulky neck tissues that often disturb the opening of the Eustachian tube.
Bacteria are flushed out through the Eustachian tube before they invade the middle ear. So if there's an obstruction in the Eustachian tube, infected fluids get trapped in the middle ear, causing otitis media with effusion.
Weaker or immature immune systems
Children's immune systems are relatively weaker and can hardly fight bacteria and virus. Breastfeeding is considered the best way of boosting your child's immune system function. Vaccines may also help improve your child's immune system, but they can also trigger allergic reaction in some children.
Cigarette smoke, whether first or second hand, are some factors that can irritate your immune system. Other irritants include:
- Excessive salt intake
- Alcohol consumption
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Inadequate rest
A balanced nutritional diet is also advisable for the proper functioning of the immune system.
|What are the symptoms of Otitis Media with Effusion?
There's no obvious symptom of otitis media, but certain conditions underlying ear disorders, such as a mild hearing loss, may suggest an obstruction caused by fluids trapped in the middle ear. Older people may complain of fullness in one or both ears.
Otitis media with effusion is more prevalent in winter due to increased susceptibility to colds and other upper respiratory infection.
|What treatment is available for Otitis Media with Effusion?
Otitis media with effusion is just a build up of fluids in the middle ear. Treatment option is to let the fluids vanish on their own. Your otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) or audiologist (ear specialist) will check your ear, and if the fluids take to long to clear up on their own, antibiotics may be given to you.
Otitis media with effusion is more common in infants and children of between 6 and 24 months old. The best treatment for patients is breastfeeding and avoidance to certain environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke.
Your audiologist will perform a hearing test to check if there is still an obstruction within 3 months. If fluids persist longer than 4 months, your doctor may suggest a tube placement surgery.
Before tube placement surgery, most physicians first try antibiotics, steroids, decongestants and antihistamines. Although these medications do not show any effectiveness in treating otitis media with effusion, most doctors seldom leave them out.
|Is Otitis Media with Effusion contagious?
No, otitis media with effusion is not contagious but the upper respiratory infections and colds that promotes it may be quite contagious.
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