General Pediatric and Adult ENT Care
At Dr. Agresti’s office, children are always welcome and are handled with extra special care. Our young patients have a wide variety of issues, ranging from common childhood ailments, like ear and throat infections to more complex issues that involve feeding, breathing and hearing problems.
Children and adults suffer from many of the same types of ear infections. Otitis media, a middle ear infection, is the most common type in children. It is caused by reduced function of the Eustachian tube, which is the drainage pathway that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. A child’s Eustachian tube has a more horizontal position than an adult’s, resulting in less drainage and ventilation from the middle ear and more secretions from the nose into the middle ear. These issues allow fluid to be trapped in the middle ear space, which can cause in pain and irritability. Otitis media is generally treated with antibiotics, although in some instances, observation alone may suffice. By the time they are 8-10 years old, most children will have outgrown this type of ear infection.
Another common type of ear infection is an outer ear infection (external otitis) or “swimmer’s ear”. This type of infection involves the skin of the ear canal, which is a warm, moist place where bacteria and fungus can cause superficial skin infections. Patients with this type of infection have an ear or ears that hurt to the touch or when moved and may itch severely. Dr. Agresti treats these cases in the office by cleaning and suctioning the ear canal and applying therapies that can immediately help relieve pain. These infections are usually treated with topical eardrops, but sometimes require oral antibiotics. We recommend that you do not try to clean the ear or apply peroxide or alcohol yourself, as it may worsen the condition.
Though it’s true that middle and outer ear infections can occur simultaneously, they are generally different problems and are treated differently. Sometimes when there is a hole (or tube) in the eardrum, fluid can drain from the middle ear into the ear canal, causing external otitis. If no hole exists, getting water in the ear canal cannot cause otitis media. Occasionally, however, excessive water exposure can cause external otitis, but it should not be confused with a middle ear infection.