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Otitis Media: A Comprehensive Guide to Acute and Chronic Ear Infections

Otitis media (OM) is a common ear infection that affects the middle ear. OM can be either acute or chronic.

Acute otitis media (AOM) is a sudden infection of the middle ear that usually occurs after an upper respiratory infection. AOM is most common in children under the age of 5, but it can also occur in adults.

Chronic otitis media (COM) is a long-term infection of the middle ear that lasts for more than 3 months. COM can be caused by repeated episodes of AOM, or it can be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as a cleft palate or Down syndrome.

Symptoms of OM

Symptoms of OM can vary depending on the type of infection. Common symptoms of AOM include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Difficulty hearing

Common symptoms of COM include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Fluid drainage from the ear
  • Ear pain or pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ear

Treatment for OM

Treatment for OM depends on the type of infection and the severity of the symptoms. AOM is usually treated with antibiotics. COM may be treated with antibiotics, ear tubes, or surgery.

Preventing OM

There are a number of things you can do to prevent OM, including:

  • Keeping your child’s vaccinations up to date
  • Treating upper respiratory infections promptly
  • Avoiding smoking around your child
  • Keeping your child’s ears clean and dry

If you think your child may have OM, it is important to see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent hearing loss and other complications.

Here are some additional tips for managing OM:

  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve ear pain and fever.
  • Apply a warm compress to the affected ear for 10-15 minutes at a time to help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Elevate your child’s head when they are sleeping to help reduce fluid buildup in the middle ear.
  • Avoid giving your child over-the-counter cold and flu medications, as these medications can worsen ear pain and congestion.

If your child is prescribed antibiotics, be sure to complete the entire course of medication, even if your child starts to feel better sooner. This will help to prevent the infection from coming back.

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  • Post last modified:2023-09-25

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