Is your teenager complaining of frequent earaches, ear pain and is there any fluid discharge from his ears. If you nodded along in recognition, your teen might be suffering from an ear infection. Read our post below to learn more about ear infections in teens and what you can do about it.
What Is An Ear Infection?
An ear infection is the disease of the middle ear. The middle ear is the area behind the eardrum. Due to bacterial action, there can be fluid buildup or inflammation in the middle ear, which in turn leads to discomfort or pain in the ears.
Most often, ear infection in teenager clear up without any need for medical treatment. But for chronic (persistent) cases, treatment may be necessary. Ear infection is also called otitis media (1).
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Causes Of Ear Infection In Teens:Sponsored
An ear infection occurs when there is a blockage in the Eustachian tube. This tube connects the middle ear to the back of the nasal area. The air from the nose provides middle ear with ventilation and keeps the ear healthy. A lack of sufficient ventilation can lead to ear infections.
There are many reasons for the blockages in the Eustachian tube (2).
- The blockage in the eustachian tube can occur due to cold, allergies, ear injuries or swollen adenoids (tissues in the nasal passage). When these occur, the eustachian tube may have swelling or fluid buildup. The middle ear area then can become damp and warm and provide ideal conditions for bacteria to grow and cause infection in the ear. At times, ear infection can also occur due to viruses though these are not common.
- Children of all ages are more susceptible to ear infections than adults as their Eustachian tube is still not fully developed.
- Poor immunity in children and adolescents can result in frequent cold and flu episodes. These problems can increase the risk of ear infections in teens and children (3).
[ Read: Hearing Loss In Teens ]
Symptoms Of Ear Infection In Teens:
There are many ear infection symptoms in teenager. Some of which include:
- Ear pain
- Poor sleep patterns
- Increased irritability
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in hearing.
- Draining of fluid from the ear.
- Constantly tugging the ears.
- Nausea (4) .
[ Read: Fever In Teens ]
Risk Factors Of Ear Infections In Teens:
The following factors can increase the chances of ear pain in teenager.
- Direct or passive exposure to tobacco smoke.
- The presence of a cleft palate.
- A family history of acute or chronic ear infections (5).
Complications Of Ear Infections In Teenager:
- Recurring ear infections in teens can cause some complications.
- Partial or complete hearing loss.
- The spread of infection to the back of the ears or brain.
- Facial paralysis.
- Eardrum injuries.
- Cysts inside the ears (6).
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Treating Ear Infections In Teens:
The treatment of teenage ear infections may differ based on the severity of the symptoms.
The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to your teenager in case severe pain and fever also occur along with the infection. Make sure that your child completes the entire antibiotic course as failure to do so can lead to recurring infections.
The doctor may advise the use of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like ibuprofen. But refrain from using any OTC drugs without the doctor’s approval. Even common OTC drugs such as aspirin can harm teens and kids with conditions such as flu, chickenpox, and Reye’s syndrome.
3. Ear Drops:
Refrain from using any OTC medicines and adhere to the doctor’s prescription.
4. Surgical Procedures:
For chronic ear infection cases, your child’s doctor may recommend surgical procedures like myringotomy. It is a method to remove the fluid out of the ear using a thin tube (7)
If your teenager suffers from chronic ear infections, take measures to prevent or minimize the occurrence of the problem. Managing his seasonal allergies is one way to do so. Increase his intake of immunity-building foods such as citrus fruits. Keep your house free of tobacco smoke and any kind of indoor air pollution. These measures can lower your child’s risk of contracting respiratory diseases and thus ear infections.
Do your kids suffer from chronic ear infections? How do you help them manage the condition? Please share your tips with us.
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