Otitis Media / Middle Ear Infection / Acute Suppurative Otitis Media (ASOM) / Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media (CSOM) / Serous Otitis Media / Aero Otitis Media / Cholesteatoma
The goal of most doctors is to rid the middle ear of infection before more serious complications set in. Treatment usually involves eliminating the causes of otitis media, killing any invading bacteria, boosting the immune system, and reducing swelling in the eustachian tubes.
In conventional or allopathic treatment oral and topical analgesics are given to treat the pain caused by otitis media. Oral agents include ibuprofen, paracetamol and narcotics. Topical agents include antipyrine and benzocaine ear drops. Decongestants and antihistamines either nasal or oral are also recommended.
Antibiotics have significant side effects, and a recent trial has found increased rate of recurrence in children who were treated with antibiotics. Antihistamines will not cure but causes side effects, including drowsiness and nervousness.
Many homeopathic medicines are used to successfully eliminate recurrent otitis media. Homeopathy can successfully prevent and treat various infections, leading to stronger and healthier individuals who do not get severely or recurrently ill.
Antibiotics are only helpful in certain bacterial infections; viral diseases are particularly common amongst children where conventional or allopathic medicines offer little help. Homeopathy differs from conventional medicine in that it doesn’t focus on treating ear infections as a separate problem but instead treats the child or patient as a whole.
This same child who has ear infections may also have other physical or emotional symptoms. They have a certain type of personality, certain likes and dislikes and many other things that make them a unique person. All this information helps in choosing the right homeopathic medicine which matches the whole pattern of symptoms. This one right remedy will help bring your child back into balance and allow their body to heal itself by strengthening the overall health of the child. Once the immune system is stimulated your child’s health improves, the ear infections and other problems will slowly and steadily go away.
- Medicines help to eliminate the tendency to catch cough and cold which is the ultimate cause for otitis media.
- Homeopathy natural cure helps to reduce nasal congestion.
- Remedies help to reduce ear pain.
- The treatment helps to alleviate constitutional symptoms like headache, fever, body aches, and loss of appetite.
- Homeopathic herbal remedies also help to prevent further complications due to otitis media.
- The medicines help to boost immunity towards various diseases.
There are 67 homeopathy medicines which give great relief in different types of otitis media. However, the correct choice and the resulting relief is a matter of experience and right judgment on the part of the doctor. The treatment is decided after thorough case taking of the patient. Thus, remedies are designer made unlike allopathy in which all patients receive the same drugs having various side effects although trade name may be different.
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What is otitis media
Otitis media refers to inflammation of middle ear by pyogenic organisms i.e. pus forming bacteria. It is more common in infants and children. This disease has a typical course; first there is viral infection of upper respiratory tract then followed by pyogenic bacterial infection which invades the middle ear.
In this infection, there is production of pus, fluid, and inflammation (swelling) in the area behind the eardrum (tympanic membrane) in the chamber called the middle ear.
The eustachian tubes, also called the auditory canals are tubes that connect the inner ear to the nose and throat, are not fully formed in children. As a result, fluid in the ear cannot drain properly into the nose as it does in adults. When the fluid builds up, it causes pressure, pain, and inflammation on the eardrum, hence providing a good environment for bacteria to grow, resulting in an infection. Normally by age seven, the auditory canal becomes large enough to allow good drainage, and most children stop having ear infections at that age.
Acute suppurative otitis media
It starts as inflammation of the middle ear with fluid and mucus trapped inside the ear, resulting into pain. It is often preceded by upper respiratory symptoms. Acute otitis media (AOM) is most often purely viral and self-limited, as it usually accompanies viral URI (upper respiratory infection).
There is congestion of the ears and mild discomfort, but the symptoms resolve with the underlying URI. If the middle ear, which is normally sterile, becomes contaminated with bacteria, pus and pressure in the middle ear can result, and this is called acute bacterial otitis media.
Viral acute otitis media can lead to bacterial otitis media in a very short time, especially in children, but it usually does not. The individual with bacterial acute otitis media has the classic ‘earache’, pain that is more severe and continuous and is often accompanied by fever of 102 °F (39 °C) or more. Bacterial cases may result in perforation of the ear drum, infection of the mastoid space (mastoiditis) and in very rare cases further spread to cause bacterial meningitis.
1st phase: Exudative inflammation lasting 1-2 days, fever, rigors, meningism (occasionally in children), severe pain (worse at night), muffled noise in ear, deafness, sensitive mastoid process, ringing in ears (tinnitus).
2nd phase: Resistance and demarcation lasting 3-8 days. Pus and middle ear exudate discharge spontaneously and afterwards pain and fever begin to decrease.
3rd phase: Healing phase lasting 2-4 weeks. Aural discharge dries up and hearing becomes normal.
Otitis media with effusion (serous otitis media, secretory otitis media, mucoid otitis media, glue ear)
It begins as acute otitis media, but the collection of fluid and mucus continues in the ear for 6 weeks or longer after the infection is over. Often the effusion is thick and viscid but sometimes it may be thin and serous. The fluid is always sterile.
In this condition the eustachian tube is not functioning enough to ventilate the ear; this makes it harder for the ear to fight new infections. This fluid can also affect child’s hearing. Fluid in the middle ear sometimes causes conductive hearing impairment, but only when it interferes with the normal vibration of the eardrum by sounds waves.
Over weeks and months, middle ear fluid can become very thick and glue-like (thus the name glue ear), which increases the likelihood of its causing conductive hearing impairment.
Chronic otitis media
In this, the infection persists and can cause ongoing damage to the middle ear and eardrum. This is not as painful as acute otitis media, but it can last for longer and the infection can occur repeatedly.
Chronic otitis media can also be caused by a condition called cholesteatoma, which is a benign growth of skin in the middle ear behind the eardrum. Chronic suppurative otitis media involves a perforation (hole) in the tympanic membrane and active bacterial infection within the middle ear space for several weeks or more. There may be enough pus that it drains to the outside of the ear (otorrhea). This disease is much more common in persons with poor eustachian tube function. Hearing impairment often accompanies this disease.
Aero otitis media
It is non suppurative condition resulting from failure of eustachian tube to maintain middle ear pressure at ambient atmospheric level. The usual cause is rapid descent during air flight, under-water diving or compression in pressure chamber.
It is defined as presence of keratinizing squamous epithelium in the middle ear which is normally lined by ciliated columnar and cuboidal cells.
- Recurrent attacks of common cold, upper respiratory tract infection, fever like measles, diphtheria, and whooping cough.
- Infection of tonsils and adenoids.
- Chronic rhinitis and sinusitis.
- Nasal allergy – seasonal or perennial allergy to inhalants or food stuff is common in children.
- For infants, being fed lying down (drinking a bottle while lying on back).
- Palatal defect like cleft palate.
- Eustachian tube dysfunction which leads to the ineffective clearing of bacteria from the middle ear.
- Poor immune response.
- Some medical conditions like Down’s syndrome, cleft palate and allergies to pollen, dust, animal dander, or food are associated with frequent ear infection.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Streptococcus pneumonia
- Hemophilus influenzae
- Adeno and rhino viruses
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
Signs & symptoms
Acute otitis media causes pain, fever, and difficulty in hearing. If a child is too young to talk, signs of an ear infection can include crying, irritability, and trouble sleeping, and pulling on the ears.
Other symptoms that may be associated with an ear infection include sore throat (pharyngitis), neck pain, nasal congestion and discharge (rhinitis), headache, and ringing (tinnitus), buzzing, or other noise in the ear.
- Ear pain or a sensation of pressure in the ear.
- Pulling or scratching at the ear in infants.
- Irritability, fussiness.
- Difficulty sleeping, feeding, hearing.
- Loss of appetite.
- Upper respiratory infections like runny or stuffy nose, cough.
- Ear drainage – yellow, white or blood tinged draining from ear which is not earwax.
- Hearing loss.
- Rupture of eardrum.
Symptoms in adults
- Earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain).
- Fever and chills.
- Nasal congestion.
- Feeling of fullness in the ear.
- Nausea and diarrhea accompanying earache.
- Muffled hearing.
Symptoms in children
- Tugging at the ear.
- Irritability, restlessness.
- Nasal discharge.
- Diminished appetite.
- Crying at night when lying down.
If virulence of organism is high or resistance of the patient is poor, then resolution will not take place and disease spreads beyond the confines of middle ear and lead to following complications:
- Acute mastoiditis subperiosteal abscess
- Facial paralysis
- Extradural abscess
- Brain abscess
Acute bacterial otitis media can cause pain that leads to sleepless nights for both children and parents, can cause eardrum perforations, not all of which heal, and can spread to cause mastoiditis and / or meningitis, brain abscess, and even death if a severe infection goes untreated long enough. High fever can occur and can cause febrile seizures.
Hearing loss & otitis media
Children with recurrent episodes of acute otitis media and those suffering from otitis media with effusion or chronic otitis media, have higher risks of developing conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
This hearing loss is mainly due to fluid in the middle ear or rupture of the tympanic membrane.
Prolonged duration of otitis media is associated with ossicular complications, and together with persistent tympanic membrane perforation contributes to the severity of both the disease and the hearing loss.
When a cholesteatoma or granulation tissue is present in the middle ear, the degree of hearing loss and ossicular destruction is even greater.
Periods of conductive hearing loss from otitis media may have a detrimental effect on speech development in children. Recent studies have also linked otitis media to educational problems, attention disorders, and problems with social adaptation. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that patients suffering from otitis media have more depression / anxiety-related disorders compared to individuals with normal hearing.
Once the infections resolve and hearing thresholds return to normal, childhood otitis media may still cause minor and irreversible damage to the middle ear and cochlea.
- Breastfeeding helps to pass along immunities that prevent otitis media. Also, the position of the child when breastfeeding is better than the bottle-feeding position for eustachian tube functions. If a child needs to be bottle fed, holding the infant at a 30-degree angle rather than allowing the child to lie down with the bottle is best. This position allows fluid to drain directly into the middle ear.
- Reduce the risk for common cold.
- Limit exposure to large groups of children, esp. if your child is an infant.
- Encourage children to wash their hands often.
- Enhancing the immune system by homeopathic medicines, as children who are prone to recurring bouts of otitis media may have deficiencies in their immune system.
- Gently massaging your child’s ear can help keep the eustachian tube open. Using gentle pressure, draw a line along the back of the ear and down the back of the jawbone. Gently push and release the flap of skin in front of the ear several times. You can also massage your child’s ear by placing the fleshy part of your palm over your child’s ear, and gently rotating the ear in all directions.
- Use an elimination diet to determine if food allergies are contributing to the problem like cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, corn, citrus, soy, oranges, peanut butter and many more.
- If your child is subject to recurring ear infections, do not expose him / her to common irritating allergens such as pet dander, down comforters and pillows, carpets, draperies, and stuffed toys; all collect dust and are possible offenders as well.
Hence, to relieve the symptoms of otitis media by promoting the immune system with the help of a safe, natural and effective treatment consider homeopathy.
- Keep your child well hydrated.
- Eliminate dairy foods which thicken and increase mucus, making it more difficult for an infected ear to drain.
- To promote drainage, prop your child at a 30-degree angle, this will help reduce pain too.
- Apply cold or warm compresses, depending on what your child is comfortable with.
- Never use instruments or cotton tipped applicators to clean the ears.
- If your child has an ear infection, avoid taking him on airplanes as it will make him very uncomfortable. Air travel does not injure the ear or increase your child’s risk of developing an ear infection, but the change of air pressure in the cabin on takeoff and landing can increase the pain.
- Don’t expose your child to secondhand smoke.
- Keep your child away from other children who are sick.
- Always hold your infant in an upright, seated position during bottle feeding.
- Breastfeeding for at least 6 months can make a child less prone to ear infections.
- A warm compress often brings comfort.
- Steam inhalations and hot footbaths may also help.
- Gargling with salt water helps soothe an aggravated throat and clear the eustachian tubes.
- Holding head erect also helps drain middle ear.
Although diet alone won’t cure an ear infection, nutritionists suggest using the following vitamins and supplements to fight a viral infection:
Vitamin A: One should increase the uptake of natural vitamin A to improve overall health and to prevent infection. Food rich in vitamin A are eggs, milk, fishes, green leaves and so on.
Vitamin C: This vitamin helps to fight infection, increases immunity of the body and helps in repairing wound.