Understanding and Treating Ear Infections

 

Understanding and Treating Ear Infections

Posted by Mark Hosko, MD in Health Information 17 Jul 2013

Here at Portland Urgent Care, we see a lot of ear infections in our walk-in medical clinic.  Many of the patients suffering from ear infections are infants and young children.  In fact, nearly half of all the antibiotic prescriptions in the US are written for babies and children with middle ear infections, also known as otitis media.

 

While older children and adults also suffer from earaches and ear infections, children and infants are the most vulnerable group due to their immature anatomy.  In these little patients, the Eustachian tube leading from the ear to the throat is often soft and does not stay open easily.  This prevents the proper air ventilation necessary to keep the ear dry and clear of drainage and blockages, making it a breeding ground for germs.

 

When a child comes into Portland Urgent Care with a possible ear infection, the first thing we do is look in the ear and see how the eardrum looks.  If it is red or inflamed and coupled with a fever and obvious signs of pain and discomfort, odds are it is an ear infection.

 

A number of things can contribute to causing an ear infection, including allergies and exposure to environmental toxins such as smoke or fumes.  Bacteria can be a direct cause of an ear infection and it is not unusual to see these organisms following an allergic reaction or an upper respiratory infection.  Upper respiratory infections, including colds and flu, are the most common cause of ear infections.

 

Most ear infections will go away on their own, but we may prescribe antibiotics for children under two and those with a high risk of serious complications.

 

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