Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Toddlers and ear infections

One of my grandsons has a green nose, common to so many little boys at this time of year with all the winter coughs and colds. He's also been tugging on his ears, is producing a couple of more teeth and generally is "doing it tough". One of the challenges for little ones with noses blocked with thick green mucous, is that it also tends to block the Eustacian tubes that lead up to the inner, working parts of the ear. Block this tube with infective mucous and there is the real chance that the poor infant will go on to get a middle ear infection - otitis media. If the infection progresses, then pus can build up inside the ear and cause bulging pressure on the ear drums: and that means a lot of pain! Ideally, the best way to treat this is by cleaning out the nose and letting the middle ear fluid drain out via the Eustacian tube and "problem solved". Unfortunately, little people do NOT like having their noses cleaned, and so they commonly get middle ear infections. However, most Ear Nose and Throat specialist do not give antibiotics for such infections as by the time they start to work, most infections are starting to resolve of their own accords. The principal of treatment is to drain the nose, use simple analgesia and inform the parents that they face a couple of interrupted nights sleep! For those who have recurrent ear infections then the ENT specialist may suggest inserting Grommets into the ear drums to allow simple drainage of any collecting pus, should the infant continue to be a recurring problem. The important thing is to get the right advice and not to necessarily "reach for the antibiotic" straight away: so if you think your child may have an ear ache, ask your GP to check it out: and work out out a sleep roster with your spouse because one of you is going to miss some zzzzz time!
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