Otitis

Ear infections

Otitis is often referred to as the inflammation of the ear and there are different forms of Otitis depending on where it occurs in and around the ear. 

What is otitis?

Otitis is an infection that commonly takes place in the middle ear and is therefore known as Otitis Media. However, it can also form in the external ear canal (Otitis Externa) and deep inside the ear (Labyrinthitis).
The inflammation causes a redness or swelling to the affected part of the ear which can result in ear ache and a high temperature.
The symptoms of Otitis tend to lessen after a few days and should clear up relatively quickly. If the condition has not passed after a few days it is important to seek medical advice.

What causes Otitis?

The eustachian tube runs from the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat and controls the pressure inside the middle ear. When Otitis Media occurs, it leads to the eustachian tube becoming swollen or blocked, trapping fluid in the middle ear.
The trapped fluid in the middle ear cannot drain away, making it easier for an infection to take place. Here are some common causes of Otitis Media:

  • Allergies
  • A cold or the flu
  • Sinus Infection
  • Infected or enlarged adenoids
  • Smoking
  • Drinking whilst laying down (infants)

Younger children are more susceptible to a middle ear infection because the eustachian tube is shorter and more horizontal than older children and adults. It is important to look out for symptoms of Otitis Media in young children so you can identify the right treatments to relieve any pain or high temperature. 

What are the symptoms of Otitis?

The symptoms of a middle ear infection develop quickly and are known to clear up within a few days. This condition is also referred to as acute Otitis Media.
The following symptoms of Otitis Media are:

  • Ear ache
  • A fever (high temperature)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • A slight loss of hearing – the reason for this will be a fluid build up in the middle part of the ear which can be referred to as ‘glue ear’.

However, if symptoms do not seem to improve within three to five days it could lead to further problems, although it is rare.  These complications can include Labyrinthitis, Mastoiditis and Meningitis, so it is important to see a doctor immediately if you feel the ear infection is not passing. 

How can Otitis be treated?

Most ear infections get better within a few days without treatment, but if necessary, you can take paracetemol or ibroprofen to relieve some of the symptoms of Otitis Media. It has been advised that drinking a lot of fluid and eating regularly is also important.
Applying a warm wash cloth to the affected ear can help to alleviate the pain. Over-the-counter ear drops are also suitable.
Antibiotics are prescribed to treat patients with severe middle ear infections that appear to have not settled after 3-5 days. Antibiotics do not speed up the recovery process, it is used to prevent further complications.

A Grandma and her Granddaughter gardening together

Otitis Externa

Inflammation of the external ear canal

A Granpa and his Grandson talking together on a sofa

Otitis Media

Middle ear inflammation or infection

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