Monthly Medical Minute: Ear Infections

A common, and often painful, issue for children during cold and flu season. We're providing helpful answers for parents.



Common childhood illnesses such as ear infections are often best treated with comfort and compassionate care — and an informative plan for treatment between doctor and parents.

Recently, Ellen, a mother of a two-year-old named Jill, contacted United Concierge Medicine for help when Jill, was complaining about her right hear hurting, along with a fever. Ellen said that Jill had ear infections before, but noted that their pediatrician told them on a recent visit that didn't really like to prescribe antibiotics for ear infections and she wasn't sure why; Ellen was looking for help and further information from the UCM provider to better understand this treatment plan.

COMPASSIONATE CARE

The UCM practitioner further assessed Jill through Ellen over the video chat option. Jill was up to date on her immunizations, and was otherwise healthy. The UCM practitioner could see that Jill had clear mucus drainage from her nose, but was active and playing with her sister — and looked generally healthy — but, at times, Jill was also tilting her head to the right and occasionally pulling on her right ear. Ellen said that she'd given Jill a dose of baby Motrin 30 minutes earlier, and that Jill was seeming to feel a bit better. With the family traveling on an out-of-town road trip that weekend, Ellen was hoping for reassurance from the UCM provider on Jill's health.

In this case, the UCM provider explained that Jill was experiencing symptoms of a basic ear infection, or, medically speaking, Otitis Media, and walked Ellen through what to expect with Jill over the next few days. In discussing this diagnosis, the UCM provider and Ellen determined that continuing with regular does of baby Motrin and the idea of "watchful watching" would be the best course of action to help Jill feel better.

HELPING PATIENTS FULLY UNDERSTAND THEIR DIAGNOSIS

In helping Ellen further understand the diagnosis, the UCM practitioner explained some of the specifics of Otitis Media, which is defined as infected, blocked fluid behind the tympanic membrane — commonly known as the ear drum — within the Eustachian tube.

Some the causes of this include allergies brought on by seasonal hay fever, common colds, sinus infections, the flu, or infected or enlarged adenoids/tonsils. These issues frequently present in children because of some specific reasons, including drinking while laying down, attending daycare with other sick children, and their young age that makes them that much more susceptible.

Treatment, especially for young children of Jill's age, include:

  • Watchful Waiting: use of ibuprofen or acetaminophen; warm, moist compresses on the ear, and 2-3 days of time to allow the body to cure the infection on its own.
  • Delayed Prescribing: a practitioner may elect to have parents utilize the idea of Watchful Waiting, but will write a prescription to use if certain criteria is met, such as time, increasing uncomfort, or worsening symptoms.
  • Antibiotics: in the right setting, antibiotics are indicated, but can contribute to antibiotic resistance and can come with their own side effects — something providers always keep in mind when prescribing medicine.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

As the saying goes, knowledge is power and can be one of the most important thing in a doctor's visit. And, compassionate care from a doctor who will take the time to listen and discuss is key — and that's something each UCM patient receives each and every time during a consultation.


>Find out more about Ear Infections from the CDC