Otitis media is the medical term for a middle ear infection. This painful condition affects both adults and children, but its more common in kids. Otitis media causes a buildup of fluid in the space behind the eardrum, affecting the function of the three small bones that deliver sound to the inner ear.
Both viruses and bacteria can cause middle ear infection, with bacterial infections being the most aggressive, requiring treatment with antibiotics. Patients experiencing an attack of viral otitis media typically notice that the condition works its way out of the ear by itself in 48 to 72-hours after symptoms start to present.
If you notice any of the following symptoms of middle ear infection in yourself or your children, visit your doctor for a diagnosis. If you have the bacterial type, you’ll need a prescription, but if you have the viral kind, you can treat it at home.
Here are eight symptoms of viral and bacterial otitis media.
1. Crying and Irritability in Infants and Children
When adults and children get sick, we can use our vocal skills to tell others that we have a problem. However, babies don’t have such a luxury. Infants are part of the high-risk group for developing otitis media infection. Babies have yet to develop a robust immune system, making them prime targets for bacterial or viral infection.
Babies that experience the onset of middle ear infection have no way to communicate their pain symptoms with their parents – other than crying. Since it’s normal for babies to cry, many parents may not realize that their child is suffering from otitis media infection.
It’s only when the baby persistently cries, and gives visual cues of tugging on its ear, that parents realize their child may be dealing with a middle ear infection. Babies produce plenty of mucus – ask any parent about how many times their infant threw upon them today, and the chances are they’ll tell you it was more than once.
As a result, infants may experience frequent blockages of the Eustachian tubes, leading to a buildup of pus in the ear that results in otitis media infection.