Some children have frequent acute middle ear infections, usually due to nasal and throat infections, such as a cold that spreadsvia Eustachian tube from the back of the nose into the middle ear cavity.
In children, infections are more common because they have a short Eustachian tube, and it is easier for microbes to penetrate to the middle ear. Due to frequent infections the Eustahian tube is swollen and clogged, allowing accumulation of sticky fluid in the middle ear known as catarrh of the middle ear.
The main symptom is the deafness of the affected ear. Deafness is rarely complete, as in most cases the patient is hearing dull and weak sounds. Deafness is caused by a sticky fluid that prevents free vibration of the occiput and auditory ossicle. Ear can hurt, and sometimes the child feels that his ear is ”full”.
If your child is unusually inattentive or has problems at school, the cause of it may be hearing loss due to catarrh (see learning problems).
Catarrh of the middle ear is a fairly common disorder, affecting about 1% of children. This disease is very rare in adults.
If the condition is not detected or not treated for several months, there is a danger that the auditory ossicles will be damaged, causing the permanent deafness of the affected ear.
If a child is in age when he or she begins to speak, deafness may slow down the development of speech, which may later negatively affect the child’s success at school.
What to do?
If you had some kind of ear infection and your hearing became worse, contact a doctor who will examine the ear with otoscope. This instrument allows the physician to clearly see the eardrum and evaluate the intensity of the catarrh.
In mild cases, when there is not much fluid accumulated in the ear and when hearing loss is minimal, the doctor will probably prescribe tablets for decongestion or antihistamines in the form of tablets or syrups. These drugs reduce the Eustachian tube swelling and allow the fluid to discharge from the middle ear and enter into the nose and throat.
In severe cases, the child must go to the hospital to remove the fluid. The child gets general anesthesia, a doctor perforates the eardrum with a very thin needle and the liquid is sucked out through the syringe. A small incision on the canopy (myringotomy or paracentesis) can also be made. Usually, a tiny plastic tube is inserted into the opening on the eardrum to puncture the Eustachian tube and dry the fluid in the middle ear. The tube usually stays in the ear for a few months, after which it falls out or is taken out and the eardrum heals by itself.
If frequent infections cause the swelling adenoid vegetation and block the entrance into Eustachian tube (or rarely, serve as a permanent source of infection), the doctor may recommend the removal of adenoid vegetation.