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Ear infection - chronic

Middle ear infection - chronic; Otitis media - chronic; Chronic otitis media; Chronic ear infection

Chronic ear infection is fluid, swelling, or an infection behind the eardrum that does not go away or keeps coming back. It causes long-term or permanent damage to the ear. It most often involves a hole in the eardrum that does not heal.

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  • Ear infection - acute - Animation

    Ear infection - acute

    Animation

  • Ear infection - acute - Animation

    Is your child irritable, inconsolably crying, feverish, and having trouble sleeping? If so, your child may have an ear infection. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor. The most common type is called otitis media, which means an inflammation and infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is located just behind the eardrum. The Eustachian tube runs from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat. This tube drains fluid normally made in the middle ear. If the tube gets blocked, fluid can build up, leading to infection. Ear infections are common in infants and children because their tiny. Eustachian tubes become easily clogged. They're often caused by allergies, colds, and excess mucus and saliva produced during teething. Infants with an ear infection will often be irritable. You may have a hard time consoling their crying, and your child may have a fever and not sleep very well. Older children may have an ear ache and tell you their ear feels full. Because ear infections have fluid behind the ear drum, you can use an electronic ear monitor to detect this fluid at home. Children under 6 months old who might have an ear infection need to see a doctor. Your child's doctor will look inside the child's ear using an instrument called an otoscope. The doctor might see areas of redness, air bubbles behind the ear drum, and fluid inside the middle ear. Often, an ear infection will clear up on its own. For older children, you can place a warm cloth or bottle on their ear and give them over-the-counter ear drops to relieve their pain. If bacteria caused the ear infection, your child may need to take antibiotics. In fact, all ear infections in children under 6 months old are treated with antibiotics. If the infection does NOT go away, on its own or with treatment, the doctor may recommend ear tube surgery. In this procedure, a tiny tube is inserted into the eardrum to drain the fluid. The tube will usually fall out on its own. Ear infections are very treatable, but they may come back again. If your child has to take an antibiotic, make sure they take all of the medicine.

  • Ear infection - chronic - Animation

    Ear infection - chronic

    Animation

  • Ear infection - chronic - Animation

    Does your child have pain or discomfort in his ear? Does your child often have a fever and is fussy a lot? If so, they may have chronic ear infections. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor. The Eustachian tube runs from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat. This tube drains fluid normally made in the middle ear. If the tube gets blocked, fluid can build up, leading to infection. Ear infections are common in infants and children because the Eustachian tubes become easily clogged. If the ears get infected a lot or individual ear infections don't clear up, your child has chronic ear infections. How do you know for sure that your child has a chronic ear infection?Your child will feel like there's pressure or fullness in his ear. He may pain or discomfort in his ear a lot and have a low-grade fever. An infant may be fussy a lot. You may see a pus-like drainage from an ear, and your child may have trouble hearing. Your child's doctor will check for redness, air bubbles, and thick fluid in your child's middle ear. A swab of your child's ear may reveal bacteria that are harder to treat than bacteria that commonly cause an ear infection. The doctor may see a hole in your child's eardrum. To treat a chronic ear infection, your child will probably need to take antibiotics if the infection is due to bacteria, maybe for a long time. If there is a hole in the eardrum, your child may need to use antibiotic ear drops or a mixture of vinegar and water. If the infection does NOT go away, the child may need surgery, to clean the infection out of the mastoid bone in the middle ear, to repair or replace the small bones in the middle ear, or to repair the eardrum. The doctor may also recommend ear tube surgery. In this procedure, a tiny tube is inserted into the eardrum to drain the fluid. The tube will usually fall out on its own. Chronic ear infections are treatable, but your child may need to keep taking medicine even for several months. These infections can be uncomfortable, and they may result in hearing loss or other serious problems.

  • After your child's ear tube surgery - Animation

    After your child's ear tube surgery

    Animation

  • After your child's ear tube surgery - Animation

    So your child's had ear tube surgery. What do you need to know when going home? I'm Dr. Alan Greene. I'd like to discuss with you some tips for right after ear tube surgery. First of all, what can you expect after the surgery? Usually because there had been fluid in the ear, hearing will improve right away. In fact, maybe so much so their ears are little sensitive for the first day. There may also be a low grade temperature 99, 100 degrees for a couple of days and it's not unusual at all to have some discharge out of the tubes for 2 or 3 days. The discharge may be clear, bloody, pink, maybe yellow, but some discharge is okay. What kind of care does your child need? Often your doctor will prescribe some pain medications that you want to be sure and give regularly. They work better if given around the clock for the first 2 or 3 days rather than just when the child complains of pain. And your doctor may also prescribe some antibiotic ear drops to help prevent infections. When should you call your doctor back? You'll want to call your doctor if there are signs of an infection developing. Usually you'd see a yellowish, greenish, pussy kind of discharge coming from the ear or a foul smell from the ear. Or your child getting more of a fever or a fever lasting longer than we've discussed. In terms of activity, your child can pretty much do what they feel like. Great activity will not dislodge the tube from the ears. It's not anything you have to be ginger or careful about. But you do want to ask your doctor about whether ear plugs are needed. For some types of ear tubes and some types of activities, they may recommend ear plugs if your child is going to be in the water. For many kids, maybe even most kids, they won't need that. It's also worth knowing that the ear tubes will most likely come out on their own. Usually somewhere between 6 and 12 months or so. And when they do come out, within about 2 weeks the eardrum will spontaneously heal and hopefully just go right on from there. Ear tubes are not expected to eliminate all ear infections, but they hopefully will make your child's ear infections less common and milder and easier to treat when they are present. The first little bit afterwards you do want to avoid harshly blowing the nose because it's a little tender in there, but you don't need to be ginger in any other way than that. Hopefully this will get you through the next few days until you check back in with your physician.

  • Ear tube insertion - Animation

    Ear tube insertion

    Animation

  • Ear tube insertion - Animation

    If your child gets a lot of ear infections, he may need to have surgery. Let's talk about ear tube insertion. So, why does my child need ear tube surgery?Your child has been having ear infections, probably for a long time, and they either won't go away or they keep coming back. If your child doesn't have ear tube surgery, there's a chance he will lose some hearing or have other long-term ear problems. Once a decision to have surgery has been made, it's good to know what happens during the surgery. Your child will be given general anesthesia. He'll be unconscious and unable to feel pain. The surgeon will make a small cut in your child's eardrum and remove any fluid behind it. Once the fluid is removed, the surgeon will place a small tube through the eardrum. The tube will allow air to flow inward. This keeps the pressure the same on both sides of the eardrum, while letting any fluid still behind the eardrum flow out. Your child will probably go home the same day as surgery. He'll probably be fussy and groggy while the anesthesia wears off. On your way home, you may need to stop at the drug store to pick up antibiotic drops to use in your child's ears for the first few days after surgery. The cut in your child's eardrum will heal on its own, and the tube will eventually fall out. Your child will be able to return to his normal activities shortly. But some doctors may recommend that your child use earplugs when he swims or bathes, to keep water out of his ears. After a child has ear tube surgery, he will usually have fewer ear infections. And if he does have an ear infection, he will usually recover faster than he used to.

  • Middle ear infection (otitis media)

    Middle ear infection (otitis media)

    Otitis media is an inflammation or infection of the middle ear. Acute otitis media (acute ear infection) occurs when there is bacterial or viral infection of the fluid of the middle ear, which causes production of fluid or pus. Chronic otitis media occurs when the eustachian tube becomes blocked repeatedly due to allergies, multiple infections, ear trauma, or swelling of the adenoids.

    Middle ear infection (otitis media)

    illustration

  • Middle ear infection

    Middle ear infection

    A middle ear infection is also known as otitis media. It is one of the most common of childhood infections. With this illness, the middle ear becomes red, swollen, and inflamed because of bacteria trapped in the eustachian tube.

    Middle ear infection

    illustration

  • Swimmer's ear

    Swimmer's ear

    Swimmer's ear is an infection of the skin lining the ear canal. Bacteria can enter the skin of the ear canal and cause an infection through a scratch, injury from a foreign object, or if the ear is wet for a prolonged period of time. Swimmer's ear is more common in  pre-school and school-age children. Symptoms include itching and pain in the ear canal, which is often accompanied by a small amount of clear discharge.

    Swimmer's ear

    illustration

  • Mastoiditis - redness and swelling behind ear

    Mastoiditis - redness and swelling behind ear

    Mastoiditis is an infection of the bony air cells in the mastoid bone, located just behind the ear. It is rarely seen today because of the use of antibiotics to treat ear infections. This child has noticeable swelling and redness behind his right ear because of mastoiditis.

    Mastoiditis - redness and swelling behind ear

    illustration

  • Ear drainage culture

    Ear drainage culture

    An ear drainage culture is collected by placing a cotton swab gently in the ear canal. The sample is sent to the laboratory for testing to isolate and identify the type of organism causing the ear infection.

    Ear drainage culture

    illustration

  • Foreign object in ear

    Foreign object in ear

    Children often place objects into their ears that can get stuck in the ear canal. It is important to remove the object since infection is most likely to occur. In most cases, a doctor will need to use special instruments to examine the ear and safely remove the foreign object.

    Foreign object in ear

    illustration

  • Ear infection - acute - Animation

    Ear infection - acute

    Animation

  • Ear infection - acute - Animation

    Is your child irritable, inconsolably crying, feverish, and having trouble sleeping? If so, your child may have an ear infection. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor. The most common type is called otitis media, which means an inflammation and infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is located just behind the eardrum. The Eustachian tube runs from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat. This tube drains fluid normally made in the middle ear. If the tube gets blocked, fluid can build up, leading to infection. Ear infections are common in infants and children because their tiny. Eustachian tubes become easily clogged. They're often caused by allergies, colds, and excess mucus and saliva produced during teething. Infants with an ear infection will often be irritable. You may have a hard time consoling their crying, and your child may have a fever and not sleep very well. Older children may have an ear ache and tell you their ear feels full. Because ear infections have fluid behind the ear drum, you can use an electronic ear monitor to detect this fluid at home. Children under 6 months old who might have an ear infection need to see a doctor. Your child's doctor will look inside the child's ear using an instrument called an otoscope. The doctor might see areas of redness, air bubbles behind the ear drum, and fluid inside the middle ear. Often, an ear infection will clear up on its own. For older children, you can place a warm cloth or bottle on their ear and give them over-the-counter ear drops to relieve their pain. If bacteria caused the ear infection, your child may need to take antibiotics. In fact, all ear infections in children under 6 months old are treated with antibiotics. If the infection does NOT go away, on its own or with treatment, the doctor may recommend ear tube surgery. In this procedure, a tiny tube is inserted into the eardrum to drain the fluid. The tube will usually fall out on its own. Ear infections are very treatable, but they may come back again. If your child has to take an antibiotic, make sure they take all of the medicine.

  • Ear infection - chronic - Animation

    Ear infection - chronic

    Animation

  • Ear infection - chronic - Animation

    Does your child have pain or discomfort in his ear? Does your child often have a fever and is fussy a lot? If so, they may have chronic ear infections. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor. The Eustachian tube runs from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat. This tube drains fluid normally made in the middle ear. If the tube gets blocked, fluid can build up, leading to infection. Ear infections are common in infants and children because the Eustachian tubes become easily clogged. If the ears get infected a lot or individual ear infections don't clear up, your child has chronic ear infections. How do you know for sure that your child has a chronic ear infection?Your child will feel like there's pressure or fullness in his ear. He may pain or discomfort in his ear a lot and have a low-grade fever. An infant may be fussy a lot. You may see a pus-like drainage from an ear, and your child may have trouble hearing. Your child's doctor will check for redness, air bubbles, and thick fluid in your child's middle ear. A swab of your child's ear may reveal bacteria that are harder to treat than bacteria that commonly cause an ear infection. The doctor may see a hole in your child's eardrum. To treat a chronic ear infection, your child will probably need to take antibiotics if the infection is due to bacteria, maybe for a long time. If there is a hole in the eardrum, your child may need to use antibiotic ear drops or a mixture of vinegar and water. If the infection does NOT go away, the child may need surgery, to clean the infection out of the mastoid bone in the middle ear, to repair or replace the small bones in the middle ear, or to repair the eardrum. The doctor may also recommend ear tube surgery. In this procedure, a tiny tube is inserted into the eardrum to drain the fluid. The tube will usually fall out on its own. Chronic ear infections are treatable, but your child may need to keep taking medicine even for several months. These infections can be uncomfortable, and they may result in hearing loss or other serious problems.

  • After your child's ear tube surgery - Animation

    After your child's ear tube surgery

    Animation

  • After your child's ear tube surgery - Animation

    So your child's had ear tube surgery. What do you need to know when going home? I'm Dr. Alan Greene. I'd like to discuss with you some tips for right after ear tube surgery. First of all, what can you expect after the surgery? Usually because there had been fluid in the ear, hearing will improve right away. In fact, maybe so much so their ears are little sensitive for the first day. There may also be a low grade temperature 99, 100 degrees for a couple of days and it's not unusual at all to have some discharge out of the tubes for 2 or 3 days. The discharge may be clear, bloody, pink, maybe yellow, but some discharge is okay. What kind of care does your child need? Often your doctor will prescribe some pain medications that you want to be sure and give regularly. They work better if given around the clock for the first 2 or 3 days rather than just when the child complains of pain. And your doctor may also prescribe some antibiotic ear drops to help prevent infections. When should you call your doctor back? You'll want to call your doctor if there are signs of an infection developing. Usually you'd see a yellowish, greenish, pussy kind of discharge coming from the ear or a foul smell from the ear. Or your child getting more of a fever or a fever lasting longer than we've discussed. In terms of activity, your child can pretty much do what they feel like. Great activity will not dislodge the tube from the ears. It's not anything you have to be ginger or careful about. But you do want to ask your doctor about whether ear plugs are needed. For some types of ear tubes and some types of activities, they may recommend ear plugs if your child is going to be in the water. For many kids, maybe even most kids, they won't need that. It's also worth knowing that the ear tubes will most likely come out on their own. Usually somewhere between 6 and 12 months or so. And when they do come out, within about 2 weeks the eardrum will spontaneously heal and hopefully just go right on from there. Ear tubes are not expected to eliminate all ear infections, but they hopefully will make your child's ear infections less common and milder and easier to treat when they are present. The first little bit afterwards you do want to avoid harshly blowing the nose because it's a little tender in there, but you don't need to be ginger in any other way than that. Hopefully this will get you through the next few days until you check back in with your physician.

  • Ear tube insertion - Animation

    Ear tube insertion

    Animation

  • Ear tube insertion - Animation

    If your child gets a lot of ear infections, he may need to have surgery. Let's talk about ear tube insertion. So, why does my child need ear tube surgery?Your child has been having ear infections, probably for a long time, and they either won't go away or they keep coming back. If your child doesn't have ear tube surgery, there's a chance he will lose some hearing or have other long-term ear problems. Once a decision to have surgery has been made, it's good to know what happens during the surgery. Your child will be given general anesthesia. He'll be unconscious and unable to feel pain. The surgeon will make a small cut in your child's eardrum and remove any fluid behind it. Once the fluid is removed, the surgeon will place a small tube through the eardrum. The tube will allow air to flow inward. This keeps the pressure the same on both sides of the eardrum, while letting any fluid still behind the eardrum flow out. Your child will probably go home the same day as surgery. He'll probably be fussy and groggy while the anesthesia wears off. On your way home, you may need to stop at the drug store to pick up antibiotic drops to use in your child's ears for the first few days after surgery. The cut in your child's eardrum will heal on its own, and the tube will eventually fall out. Your child will be able to return to his normal activities shortly. But some doctors may recommend that your child use earplugs when he swims or bathes, to keep water out of his ears. After a child has ear tube surgery, he will usually have fewer ear infections. And if he does have an ear infection, he will usually recover faster than he used to.

  • Middle ear infection (otitis media)

    Middle ear infection (otitis media)

    Otitis media is an inflammation or infection of the middle ear. Acute otitis media (acute ear infection) occurs when there is bacterial or viral infection of the fluid of the middle ear, which causes production of fluid or pus. Chronic otitis media occurs when the eustachian tube becomes blocked repeatedly due to allergies, multiple infections, ear trauma, or swelling of the adenoids.

    Middle ear infection (otitis media)

    illustration

  • Middle ear infection

    Middle ear infection

    A middle ear infection is also known as otitis media. It is one of the most common of childhood infections. With this illness, the middle ear becomes red, swollen, and inflamed because of bacteria trapped in the eustachian tube.

    Middle ear infection

    illustration

  • Swimmer's ear

    Swimmer's ear

    Swimmer's ear is an infection of the skin lining the ear canal. Bacteria can enter the skin of the ear canal and cause an infection through a scratch, injury from a foreign object, or if the ear is wet for a prolonged period of time. Swimmer's ear is more common in  pre-school and school-age children. Symptoms include itching and pain in the ear canal, which is often accompanied by a small amount of clear discharge.

    Swimmer's ear

    illustration

  • Mastoiditis - redness and swelling behind ear

    Mastoiditis - redness and swelling behind ear

    Mastoiditis is an infection of the bony air cells in the mastoid bone, located just behind the ear. It is rarely seen today because of the use of antibiotics to treat ear infections. This child has noticeable swelling and redness behind his right ear because of mastoiditis.

    Mastoiditis - redness and swelling behind ear

    illustration

  • Ear drainage culture

    Ear drainage culture

    An ear drainage culture is collected by placing a cotton swab gently in the ear canal. The sample is sent to the laboratory for testing to isolate and identify the type of organism causing the ear infection.

    Ear drainage culture

    illustration

  • Foreign object in ear

    Foreign object in ear

    Children often place objects into their ears that can get stuck in the ear canal. It is important to remove the object since infection is most likely to occur. In most cases, a doctor will need to use special instruments to examine the ear and safely remove the foreign object.

    Foreign object in ear

    illustration

Review Date: 2/19/2018

Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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