Making the Rounds: ear infections

The ear is a complicated part of the
body and an ear infection can be painful due to the buildup of fluids inside the
ear and resulting inflammation. But why are children most likely to get an ear infection? Parkview pediatrician Dr. Tony GiaQuinta explains that it’s all in their anatomy. There’s a drainage tube called
the eustachian tube that connects that middle ear actually back to the oral
pharynx and it helps drain whatever fluids in there.
However, infants and young children have a little bit different anatomy as they
grow older and that eustachian tube is notorious for getting kinked off. When
that happens, any fluid in the middle ear can’t escape and it is a wonderful
breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Antibiotics are most commonly used for
the treatment of ear infections. However, depending on a child’s age spotting an infection may be difficult. Young infants like infants less than six months old aren’t able to communicate where their pain is or what is causing their
infection. So every time we have a young child with an infection, it’s our job to
do a complete head-to-toe exam and look for all of the common and uncommon
sources of an infection. And so we will always always look in those ears to see
if that might be a source of a bacterial process that could benefit from the use
of antibiotics. Well ear infections may go away on their
own Dr. GiaQuinta recommends getting to a physician early to begin a treatment
plan. The most important thing to know about an ear infection is that your
child won’t feel very good and a lot of times that bacteria will not go away
without antibiotics. And before your child goes back out to play remember
they may still be contagious. Ear infections in themselves are not
contagious, however the virus that may have brought on that ear infection is
something that is contagious and it’s not localized just to the ear, but again
your whole body is usually shedding that virus and can certainly be passed along
from one person to another. Well there’s not much that can be done to prevent an ear infection the best form of defense is vaccination. Your child is going to be
in the environment they’re going to be exposed to lots of different viruses and
bacteria. Luckily we do know the most common causes of bacterial ear infections are haemophilus influenzae and strep pneumococcus. Guess what those bacteria are? They are found in our vaccines that
we get routinely at two, four, six and twelve months of life. So many of those
types of bacteria we are actually preventing by just getting our routine
vaccinations, and we have found indeed that we are decreasing ear infections
because of those vaccines. This has been making the rounds brought to you by Parkview Health.

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