I said “otitis media”, can you hear me?
Maybe not, if you child suffers from frequent ear infections. “Otitis media” is the
medical name for an ear infection. Otitis media is the most common illness in babies and
There are actually two types of otitis media. The first type is called “acute otitis media”
or AOM for short. AOM can be very painful to your child because parts of the ear are
swollen and infected. In addition, AOM also causes fluid and mucus to be trapped inside
The second type of otitis media is called “otitis media with effusion (fluid)” or OME
for short. This type means fluid and mucus have stayed trapped in the ear after the
infection is over. OME makes it harder for the ear to fight new infections and because of
the trapped fluid your child may also have difficulty hearing.
Unfortunately, otitis media is quite common and usually happens as a result of a cold or
virus. When your child gets sick with a virus or bacteria, it can get inside the ear and
cause an infection.
It is not always easy to tell if your child has an ear infection. Some of the signs to look
for include pulling at the ears, crying more than usual, fluid draining from the ears,
trouble sleeping, difficulty balancing, or trouble hearing.
If you think your child may have an ear infection it is important that you take your child
to a doctor. The doctor will examine the ear to determine if your child does have an ear
infection. He or she will then prescribe an antibiotic to work against the bacteria in your
child’s ear. If your child is prescribed an antibiotic it is important that she complete the
entire course of medicine, even though she may begin to feel better after a couple of
doses. If you don’t use the entire antibiotic prescription, the ear infection may come right
If your child has a lot of ear infections it may cause temporary hearing problems. Hearing
is affected because sound cannot get through an ear that is filled with fluid. This is
especially important if your child is just developing language. If the language your child
is hearing is muffled because of an ear infection her speech and language may be
If you and your doctor are concerned that your child’s hearing and speech are being
affected because of ear infections, your doctor may suggest putting tubes in your child’s
ears. Putting tubes into a child’s ear is a surgical procedure called a myringotomy. In a
myringotomy, a surgeon makes a small opening in the ear drum and places a tube in the
opening. The tube works by relieving pressure in the clogged ear so that the child can
hear. After a few months, the tubes will fall out on their own.
If you still have questions about otitis media, remember you can always “ask the nurse”!
Otitis media, yes, I think you heard me.