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Otitis Media; Chronic

Overview

A disorder involving inflammation and/or infection of the structures of the middle ear.


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Causes

Inflammation of the ear (sterile otitis or serous otitis) may occur when there is a collection of sterile fluid in the ear. This maybe caused by overproduction of fluid by the structures in the middle ear. It may also be caused by blockage of the eustachiantube (the connection between the middle ear and the back of the nose/upper throat). The presence of excess fluid causes the earto become irritated and inflamed.Acute otitis media (acute ear infection) occurs when there is bacterial or viral infection of the fluid of the middle ear, whichcauses production of fluid or pus. This may be accompanied by bleeding in the middle ear.Pressure from fluids associated with ear infection may cause the eardrum to rupture. Conversely, a ruptured eardrum can resultin ear infection by allowing bacteria or viruses direct entry to the middle ear. Ear infections are most common followingrespiratory infections, or if the sinuses or eustachian tube are blocked from allergies or enlarged adenoids .Ear infections occur in approximately 3 out of every 100 people. They may affect anyone but are more common in childrenbecause their eustachian tubes are shorter, narrower, and more horizontal than in adults.Risk factors include recent illness of any type (which lowers resistance of the body to infection), crowded or unsanitary livingconditions, genetic factors (susceptibility of the ear to infection may run in families), high altitude, cold climate, and bottlefeeding of infants allowing fluid to pool in the throat near the eustachian tube.


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Signs & Symptoms

 ear discomfort or pain- earache may be severe- fullness, pressure in the ear- in children, pulling at the ear- drainage from the ear- hearing loss in the affected ear- fever- chills- irritability- feeling of general illness- nausea, vomiting- diarrheaNote: Symptoms may occur spontaneously, or after a cold or other upper respiratory infection.Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:- throat, sore- neck pain- nasal discharge- nasal congestion- joint pain

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Prevention

Always hold infants in a sitting position during feeding.For children and adults who have a history of frequent ear infections, nasal sprays, preventive antibiotics, or decongestants maybe recommended during respiratory infections. (Nasal sprays should only be given for short periods of time. Prolonged use can cause dependence on the nasal spray, or can cause the congestion to get worse instead of better.)


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Treatments
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