Medical Insight: Ear Infections – Essentia Health


[MUSIC PLAYING] TRACY BRIGGS: It can be
among the most helpless of feelings for a parent. Your child is sick. It might be an ear
infection, it might not. But how do you know and
how do you know when it’s time to go to the doctor? DR. ALAN BRUNS: How are
your ears feeling today? TRACY BRIGGS: Dr. Alan Bruns is
a popular guy with the under 10 set. As an ear, nose, and throat
specialist at Essentia Health, he’s peeked into a
lot of little ears on the lookout for infection. Infections often
happen following a cold or virus, when the
Eustachian tubes get blocked. Air is unable to reach
the middle ear, which creates a vacuum, which pulls
fluid and germs from the nose into the middle ear. The fluid is unable to drain
from the swollen tubes, becoming a perfect breeding
ground for bacteria or viruses to grow into an ear infection. Bruns says 90% of children
will get at least one ear infection growing up. DR. ALAN BRUNS: In
younger children, they have a shorter
Eustachian tube. It tends to be a little
bit more horizontal, and oftentimes there’s a
hereditary component to this, as well, where it just doesn’t
work as well as it should. TRACY BRIGGS: Doctor Bruns says
when the ear gets infected, you’ll notice the child
pulling on her ear. She might not sleep
as well, be irritable, and have a low grade fever. Typically, you can
treat the infection with Tylenol and warm
compresses to ease the pain. He says it makes
sense for parents to try what he calls
watchful waiting to see if the child is
fighting the illness or needs immediate attention. DR. ALAN BRUNS: And
that’s one of the things a physician will look at in
terms of do we give antibiotics or not? How sick is the child? If the child is just a little
irritated and irritable, then probably waiting a few days
is not necessarily a bad thing. But if all of a sudden
they have this fever and they’re just
really not doing well and have sharp, shooting
pain, oftentimes, those are patients that would
benefit from an antibiotic. TRACY BRIGGS: Most children
can fight the infections with antibiotics, such as
amoxicillin or augmentin But some will need
more drastic measures. Dr. Bruns says if a child
has her first ear infection before the age of one or had
four or so infections in six months, they would
consider surgery to insert pressure
equalizing, or PE tubes, to help with the drainage. He says, as children grow
the tubes will come out on their own and 80%
won’t need another set. For Essentia Health Medical
Insight, I’m Tracy Briggs.

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