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About bilateral otitis media

Otitis media is the inflammation of the middle ear. It is a very common medical issue, especially among children. Of all medical problems affecting the ear, otitis media seems to be the most common one. This inflammation can affect one or both ears. If it affects both ears, it is called bilateral otitis media, as opposed to unilateral otitis media, which involves just one ear.

Acute otitis media is a typical childhood disease. As children grow older, the angle between the eustachian tube and the pharynx becomes more acute, so sneezling and coughing can easily push it shut. In younger children, the angle is still not very acute, allowing the material to travel down the tube into the middle ear.

This disease is typical for children between ages of 6 and 15 months. It often resolves on its own, without any special treatment. Since otitis media in children is so frequent and common and it can go away on its own, most of the times parents do not even take the child to see the doctor.

Otitis media, especially if bilateral, is often associated with viral infections, such as influenza. The inflammation can follow an upper respiratory tract infection, for example common cold or flu. Bacterial infection is another, although less common cause of acute otitis media.

Symptoms of acute bilateral otitis media

The most prominent symptom of acute bilateral otitis media is earache affecting both of the ears. Headache is also very common, and so is fatigue, malaise, fever, irritability, nausea and vomiting.

Examination at the doctor’s office usually reveals high or very high fever, redness of the eardrum, which may also be bulging or swollen and outer ear that is red and warm to touch.

Treatment for acute bilateral otitis media

In many cases otitis media goes away on its own. If it persists for more than three or four days, it is advised to see a doctor. Given the nature of this disease, it may be hard to decide if antibiotics are required or not, especially since the infection is often viral. In addition, doctors are often reluctant to give antibiotics to children. However, if the infection is believed to be bacterial and if it is particularly severe, antibiotics can be given in oral form or as antibiotic eardrops.

The pain can be managed with over-the-counter analgesics, such as ibuprofen. Aspirin is not suitable for children because of the risk of rare but dangerous Raye’s syndrome. There are also eardrops with mild numbing or anesthetic agents that can be used to relieve the pain. Paracetamol can be taken to reduce the fever and body ache.

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