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What’s Going Around: For your ears only

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During cold and flu season, it’s never surprising to see an increase in cases of Otitis Media (a.k.a. middle ear infection). And last week at Centra Care, doctors saw just that among pediatric patients. Parents, do you know what to look for?

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Otitis Media occurs when the ear lining becomes swollen, and fluid builds up – that can cause ear pain and infection.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

  • Earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain)
  • Fever and chills
  • Nasal congestion may accompany or precede an ear infection
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Nausea may accompany an earache
  • Muffled hearing
  • Ear drainage

What to look for in young children:

  • Tugging at the ear
  • Sleeplessness
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Ear drainage
  • Diminished appetite
  • Crying when lying down

Doctors try to distinguish between the different forms of otitis media in order to determine the most effective treatment options. Because of complications associated with ear infections, it’s important to see a physician to determine what is causing your earache. Not all forms of otitis media need to be treated with antibiotics, but if the infection is caused by a bacteria, antibiotics may be recommended.

When do you need to see a doctor?

  • If an ear hurts, only your doctor can tell if there is an infection in the middle ear that will require an antibiotic.
  • If you or your child has difficulty hearing.
  • If you or your child has any fluid or blood draining from the ear.

Ear infections are not contagious, though the cold that may lead to one probably is.