All About Ears
Why do children have more middle ear infections? The adult Eustachian tube inclines about 45 degrees while the child’s Eustachian tube inclines only about 10 degrees. Consequently, the adult gains the benefit of gravity which acts to increase resistance to fluid entering the middle ear.
For more information regarding the illness affecting your child’s ears, review our Kids ENT health links listed below.
A Quick Glossary for Good Ear Health
A Quick Glossary for Good Ear Health Your child has an earache. After your first visit to a physician you may hear some of the following terms related to the diagnosis and treatment of this common childhood disorder.
Acute otitis media – the medical term for the common ear infection. Otitis refers to an ear inflammation, and media means middle. Acute otitis media is an infection of the middle ear, which is located behind the eardrum. This diagnosis includes fluid effusion trapped in the middle ear.
Adenoidectomy – removal of the adenoids, also called pharyngeal tonsils. Some believe their removal helps prevent ear infections.
Amoxicillin – a semi-synthetic penicillin antibiotic often used as the first-line medical treatment for acute otitis media or otitis media with effusion. A higher dosage may be recommended for a second treatment.
Analgesia – immediate pain relief. For an earache, it may be provided by acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and auralgan.
Antibiotic – a soluble substance derived from a mold or bacterium that inhibits the growth of other bacterial micro-organisms.
Antibiotic resistance – a condition where micro-organisms continue to multiply although exposed to antibiotic agents, often because the bacteria has become immune to the medication. Overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance.
Audiometer – an electronic device used in measuring hearing for pure tones of frequencies, generally varying from 125–8000 Hz, and speech (recorded in terms of decibels).
Azithromyacin – an antibiotic prescribed for acute otitis media due to Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Moraxella catarrhalis. Also known by its brand name, Zithromax®.
Bacteria – organisms responsible for about 70 percent of otitis media cases. The most common bacterial offenders are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis.
Chronic otitis media – when infection of the middle ear persists, leading to possible ongoing damage to the middle ear and eardrum.
Decibel – one tenth of a bel, the unit of measure expressing the relative intensity of a sound. The results of a hearing test are often expressed in decibels.
Effusion – a collection of fluid generally containing a bacterial culture.
First-line agent – The first treatment of antibiotics prescribed for an ear infection, often amoxicillin.
Myringotomy – an incision made into the ear drum.
Otitis media without effusion – an inflammation of the eardrum without fluid in the middle ear.
Otitis media with effusion – the presence of fluid in the middle ear without signs or symptoms of ear infection. It is sometimes called serous otitis media. This condition does not usually require antibiotic treatment.
Otitis media with perforation – a spontaneous rupture or tear in the eardrum as a result of infection. The hole in the ear drum usually repairs itself within several weeks.
Pneumatic otoscopy – a test administered for the middle ear consisting of an inspection of the ear with a device capable of varying air pressure against the eardrum. If the tympanic membrane moves during the test, normal middle ear function is indicated. A lack of movement indicates either increased impedance, as with fluid in the middle ear, or perforation of the tympanic membrane.
Recurrent otitis media – when the patient incurs three infections in three months, four in six months, or six in 12 months. This is often an indicator that a tympanostomy with tubes might be recommended.
Second line treatment – antibiotics prescribed when the first line of treatment fails to resolve symptoms after 48 hours.
Trimethoprim Sulfamethoxazole – an alternative first line treatment for children allergic to amoxicillin.
Tympanostomy tubes – small tubes inserted in the eardrum to allow drainage of infection.
Do not hesitate to seek clarification from your physician if he or she uses a term that you do not fully understand.
Children and Facial Trauma
What is facial trauma?
The term facial trauma means any injury to the face or upper jaw bone. Facial traumas include injuries to the skin covering, underlying skeleton, neck, nasal (sinuses), orbital socket, or oral lining, as well as the teeth and dental structures. Sometimes these types of injuries are called maxillofacial injury. Facial trauma is often recognized by lacerations (breaks in the skin); bruising around the eyes, widening of the distance between the eyes (which may indicate injury to the bones between the eye sockets); movement of the upper jaw when the head is stabilized (which may indicate a fracture in this area); and abnormal sensations on the cheek.
In the U.S., about three million people are treated in emergency departments for facial trauma injuries each year. Of the pediatric patients, five percent have suffered facial fractures. In children less than three years old, the primary cause of these fractures is falls. In children more than five years old the primary cause for facial trauma is motor vehicle accidents.
Our fast paced world of ultra sports and increasing violence puts children at risk for facial injury. But, children’s facial injuries require special attention. A child’s future growth plays a big role in treatment for facial trauma. So, one of the most important issues as a care giver is to follow a physician’s treatment plan as closely as you can until your child is fully recovered.
Why is facial trauma different in children than adults?
Facial trauma can range between minor injury to disfigurement that lasts a lifetime. The face is critical in communicating with others, so it is important to get the best treatment possible. Pediatric facial trauma differs from adult injury because the face is not fully formed and future growth will be a factor in how the child heals and recovers. Certain types of trauma may cause a delay in the growth or further complicate recovery. Difficult cases require physicians with great skill to make a repair that will grow with your child.
Types of facial trauma
New technology, such as CT scans, have improved physicians ability to evaluate and manage facial trauma. In some cases, immediate surgery is needed to realign fractures before they heal incorrectly. Other injuries will have better outcomes if repairs are done after cuts and swelling have improved. A new study has shown that even when injury does not require surgery, it is important to a child’s health and welfare to continue to follow up with a physicians care.
Soft tissue injuries
Injuries such as cuts (lacerations) may occur on the soft tissue of the face. In combination with suturing the wound, the provider should take care to inspect and treat any injures to the facial nerves, glands, or ducts.
When a fracture of the bones in the face occurs, the treatment process is similar to that of a fracture in other parts of the body. Factors that affect how the fracture should be dealt with are the location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, and the age and general health of the patient. It is important during treatment of facial fractures to be careful that the patient’s facial appearance is minimally affected.
Injuries to the teeth and surrounding dental structures style
Isolated injuries to teeth are quite common and may require the expertise of various dental specialists. Because of the specific needs of the dental structures, certain actions and precautions should be taken if a child has received an injury to his or her teeth or surrounding dental structures.
- If a tooth is “knocked out”, it should be placed in salt water or milk. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better chance it will survive. Therefore, the patient should see a dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible.
- Never attempt to “wipe the tooth off” since remnants of the ligament which hold the tooth in the jaw are attached and are vital to the success of replanting the tooth.
Drugs for stuffy nose, sinus trouble, congestion, and the common cold constitute the largest segment of the over-the-counter market for America’s pharmaceutical industry. When used wisely, they provide welcome relief for at least some of the discomforts that affect almost everyone occasionally and that affect many people chronically. Drugs in these categories are useful for relief of symptoms from allergies, upper respiratory infections (i.e., sinusitus, colds, flu), and vasomotor rhinitis (a chronic stuffy nose caused by such unrelated conditions as emotional stress, thyroid disease, pregnancy, and others). These drugs do not cure the allergies, infections, etc.; they only relieve the symptoms, thereby making the patient more comfortable.
Histamine is an important body chemical that is responsible for the congestion, sneezing, and runny nose that a patient suffers with an allergic attack or an infection. Antihistamine drugs block the action of histamine, therefore reducing the allergy symptoms. For the best result, antihistamines should be taken before allergic symptoms get well established.
The most annoying side effect that antihistamines produce is drowsiness. Though desirable at bedtime, it is a nuisance to many people who need to use antihistamines in the daytime. To some people, it is even hazardous. These drugs are not recommended for daytime use for people who may be driving an automobile or operating equipment that could be dangerous. Newer non-sedating antihistamines, available by prescription only, do not have this effect. The first few doses cause the most sleepiness; subsequent doses are usually less troublesome.
Typical antihistamines include Allegra®, Benadryl®, Chlor-Trimetron,®, Claritin®, Clarinex®, Teldrin®, Zyrtec,® etc.
Congestion in the nose, sinuses, and chest is due to swollen, expanded, or dilated blood vessels in the membranes of the nose and air passages. These membranes have an abundant supply of blood vessels with a great capacity for expansion (swelling and congestion). Histamine stimulates these blood vessels to expand as described previously.
Decongestants, on the other hand, cause constriction or tightening of the blood vessels in those membranes, which then forces much of the blood out of the membranes so that they shrink, and the air passages open up again.
Decongestants are chemically related to adrenalin, the natural decongestant, which is also a type of stimulant. Therefore, the side effect of decongestants is a jittery or nervous feeling. They can cause difficulty in going to sleep, and they can elevate blood pressure and pulse rate. Decongestants should not be used by a patient who has an irregular heart rhythm (pulse), high blood pressure, heart disease, or glaucoma. Some patients taking decongestants experience difficulty with urination. Furthermore, decongestants are often used as ingredients in diet pills. To avoid excessively stimulating effects, patients taking diet pills should not take decongestants.
Typical decongestants are phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine®*), and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®, etc.)
* May be available over–the–counter without a prescription. Read labels carefully, and use only as directed.
Theoretically, if the side effects could be properly balanced, the sleepiness sometimes caused by antihistamines could be cancelled by the stimulation of decongestants. Numerous combinations of antihistamines with decongestants are available: Actifed,®* Allegra-D,® Chlor-Trimeton D,®* Claritin D,® Contac,®* Co-Pyronil 2,®* Deconamine,® Demazin,®* Dimetapp,®* Drixoral,®* Isoclor,®* Nolamine,® Novafed A,® Ornade,® Sudafed Plus,® Tavist D,®* Triaminic,®* and Trinalin,® to name just a few.
A patient may find one preparation quite helpful for several months or years but may need to switch to another one when the first loses its effectiveness. Since no one reacts exactly the same as another to the side effects of these drugs, a patient may wish to try his own ideas on adjusting the dosages. One might take the antihistamine only at night and take the decongestant alone in the daytime. Or take them together, increasing the dosage of antihistamine at night (while decreasing the decongestant dose) and then doing the opposite for daytime use.
Antihistamine (Chlor-Trimeton,®* 4mg)—one tablet three times daily and two tablets at bedtime.
Decongestant (Sudafed,®* 30mg)—two tablets three times daily and one tablet at bedtime.
Decongestants and/or antihistamines are the principal ingredients in “cold” remedies, but drying agents, aspirin (or aspirin substitutes) and cough suppressants may also be added. The patient should choose the remedy with ingredients best suited to combat his own symptoms. If the label does not clearly state the ingredients and their functions, the consumer should ask the pharmacist to explain them.
The types of nose sprays that can be purchased without a prescription usually contain decongestants for direct application to nasal membranes. They can give prompt relief from congestion by constricting blood vessels. However, direct application creates a stronger stimulation than decongestants taken by mouth. It also impairs the circulation in the nose, which after a few hours, stimulates the vessels to expand to improve the blood flow again. This results in a “bounce-back” effect. The congestion recurs. If the patient uses the spray again, it starts the cycle again. Spray–decongestion– rebound–and more congestion.
In infants, this rebound rhinitis can develop in two days, whereas in adults, it often takes several more days to become established. An infant taken off the drops for 12 to 24 hours is cured, but well-established cases in adults often require more than a simple “cold turkey” withdrawal. They need decongestants by mouth, sometimes corticosteroids, and possibly (in patients who continuously have used the sprays for months and years) a surgical procedure to the inside of the nose. For this reason, the labels on these types of nose sprays contain the warning “Do not use this product for more than three days.” Nose sprays should be reserved for emergency and short term use.
(The above description and advice does not apply to the type of prescription anti-allergy nose sprays that may be ordered by your physician.)
Copyright American Academy of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery 2006