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Health Condition

Recurrent Ear Infections

About This Condition

Many children suffer recurrent infections of the middle ear, a condition also known as otitis media (OM).

Symptoms

Ear infections can cause irritability, difficulty sleeping, runny nose, fever, fluid draining from the ear, loss of balance, mild to severe ear pain, and hearing difficulty. Untreated infections can cause permanent hearing impairment and can also spread to other parts of the head, including the brain. Frequent or persistent ear infections in children can reduce their hearing when normal hearing is critical for speech and language development.

Other Therapies

Chronic infections or persistent fluid in the ear many require myringotomy, an operation in which small “tympanostomy tubes” are inserted in the affected eardrums. The procedure equalizes ear pressure and allows drainage of fluid from the middle ear. Enlarged or infected adenoids may be removed (adenoidectomy) during the myringotomy procedure. Though frequently performed, myringotomy has not consistently demonstrated long-term efficacy for preventing recurrent ear infections. 1

References

1. Le CT, Freeman DW, Fireman BH. Evaluation of ventilating tubes and myringotomy in the treatment of recurrent or persistent otitis media. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1991;10:2-11.

2. Tapiainen T, Kontiokari T, Sammalkivi L, et al. Effect of xylitol on growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the presence of fructose and sorbitol. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2001;45:166-9.

3. Kontiokari T, Uhari M, Koskela M. Antiadhesive effects of xylitol on otopathogenic bacteria. J Antimicrob Chemother 1998;41:563-5.

4. Kontiokari T, Uhari M, Koskela M. Effect of xylitol on growth of nasopharyngeal bacteria in vitro. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1995;39:1820-3.

5. Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Koskela M, Niemela M. Xylitol chewing gum in prevention of acute otitis media: double blind randomised trial. BMJ 1996;313:1180-4.

6. Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Niemela M. A novel use of xylitol sugar in preventing acute otitis media. Pediatrics 1998;102:879-84.

7. Tapiainen T, Luotonen L, Kontiokari T, et al. Xylitol administered only during respiratory infections failed to prevent acute otitis media. Pediatrics 2002;109:E19.

8. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 213-4 [review].

9. Schilcher H. Phytotherapy in Paediatrics: Handbook for Physicians and Pharmacists. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1997, 43-5.

10. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers, 1985, 227-8.

11. Markowitz JS, Donovan JL, DeVane CL, et al. Effect of St John's wort on drug metabolism by induction of cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme. JAMA 2003;290:1500-4.

12. Leibovitz B, Siegel BV. Ascorbic acid, neutrophil function, and the immune response. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1978;48:159-64.

13. Vojdani A, Ghoneum M. In vivo effect of ascorbic acid on enhancement of human natural killer cell activity. Nutr Res 1993;13:753-64.

14. Duchateau J, Delespesse G, Vereecke P. Influence of oral zinc supplementation on the lymphocyte response to mitogens of normal subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1981;34:88-93.

15. Fraker PJ, Gershwin ME, Good RA, Prasad A. Interrelationships between zinc and immune function. Fed Proc 1986;45:1474-9.

16. McMahan JT, Calenoff E, Croft J, et al. Chronic otitis media with effusion and allergy: modified RAST analysis of 119 cases. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1981;89:427-31.

17. Nsouli TM, Nsouli SM, Linde RE, et al. Role of food allergy in serous otitis media. Ann Allergy 1994;73:215-9.

18. McGovern JP, Haywood TH, Fernandez AA. Allergy and secretory otitis media. JAMA 1967;200:134-8.

19. Roukonen J, Pagnaus A, Lehti H. Elimination diets in the treatment of secretory otitis media. Internat J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 1982;4:39-46.

20. Juntti H, Tikkanen S, Kokkonen J, et al. Cow's milk allergy is associated with recurrent otitis media during childhood. Acta Otolaryngol 1999;119:867-73.

21. Sanchez A, Reeser JL, Lau HS, et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Am J Clin Nutr 1973;26:1180-4.

22. Bernstein J, Alert S, Anus KM, Suspend R. Depression of lymphocyte transformation following oral glucose ingestion. Am J Clin Nutr 1977;30:613 [abstract].

23. Ethel RA, Pattishall EN, Haley NJ, et al. Passive smoking and middle ear effusion among children in day care. Pediatr 1992;90:228-32.

24. Ross A, Collins M, Sanders C. Upper respiratory tract infection in children, domestic temperatures, and humidity. J Epidemiol Community Health 1990;44:142-6.

25. Jackson JM, Mourino AP. Pacifier use and otitis media in infants twelve months of age or younger. Pediatr Dent 1999;21:256-61.

26. Niemela M, Uhari M, Hannuksela A. Pacifiers and dental structure as risk factors for otitis media. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 1994;29:121-7.

27. Niemela M, Uhari M, Mottonen M. A pacifier increases the risk of recurrent acute otitis media in children in daycare centers. Pediatrics 1995;96:884-8.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.

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