Ear infections can affect anyone, but they are most common in children. As a parent, you will most likely watch your child suffer from one of these painful conditions. In some instances, you may have to watch your child deal with chronic ear infections over a period of a few years. If your child has 3 episodes over a 6-month period or 4 in a year, they are dealing with chronic or recurring ear infections that require more than a dose of antibiotics. This guide will help you understand the causes and treatment options for your child's chronic ear infections.
The Eustachian tube is a key part of the development of ear infections. This tube runs from the middle ear to the back of the throat. Its main function is to drain fluid from the ear. If the tube is blocked or an excess of wax or fluid is present, it will not drain properly. This improper drainage causes fluid to build up, resulting in swelling and inflammation that leads to an ear infection.
Your child may develop chronic ear infections if the infection behind the eardrum does not heal. Or, if there is an issue affecting the way the Eustachian tube drains.
Eustachian tube dysfunction, or ETD, is a common cause of chronic ear infections. Children with this disorder have a narrow Eustachian tube or one that is abnormally shaped. Both of these issues prevent fluid from draining in the most effective way possible.
The surgical insertion of tubes into the Eustachian tube is the most common treatment for children who have chronic or recurring ear infections.
During this surgery, doctors will make a small incision in the eardrum. This incision is sufficient for placing small tools into the inner ear. A small vacuum is then inserted, allowing the doctor to suction out fluid, bacteria, and debris from the Eustachian tube. Lastly, small tympanostomy tubes are inserted into the Eustachian tubes to promote healthier drainage.
The procedure is safe and effective for most children. The results are also immediate. Your child will experience the following after the insertion of tubes in their ear:
- Proper drainage
- Reduced pressure in the eardrums
- Decreased inflammation and pain
Living with chronic ear infection is possible, but it can affect your child's quality of life. To learn more about the causes and treatment options for your child's ear infections, consult a pediatrician at facilities like Better Family Care.