Except for wellness baby visits, ear infections are the most common reason for trips to the pediatrician, accounting for approximately 30 million doctor visits a year in the U.S. The primary function of the Eustachian tube is to ventilate the middle ear space, ensuring that its pressure remains at near normal ambient air pressure. Note: A child with an ear infection can travel by airplane, but if the Eustachian tube is not functioning well, changes in air pressure in the plane can cause discomfort. If a child needs to be bottlefed, hold the infant instead of allowing the child to lie down with the bottle is best.
A middle ear infection usually occurs after a child has had a sore throat, cold, or upper respiratory infection.
If the upper respiratory infection is bacterial, the infection-causing bacteria may spread to the middle ear.
Young children with otitis media may be irritable, fussy, or have problems feeding or sleeping. Temporary hearing loss may occur during an ear infection because the buildup of pus within the middle ear causes pain, and dampens the vibrations of the eardrum.
Note: Meniere's disease is likely a disorder of the flow of fluids of the inner with symptoms that include vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. Other lines of defense against ear infections include avoiding secondhand smoke and breastfeeding your baby for the first year of life.


Stedman's Medical Dictionary 28th Edition, Copyright© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
During an ear infection there is fluid in the middle ear accompanied by signs or symptoms of ear infection including a bulging eardrum usually accompanied by pain; or a perforated eardrum, often with drainage of pus (purulent material). Children who have acute otitis media before six months of age tend to have more ear infections later in childhood.
The secondary function of the Eustachian tube is to drain any accumulated secretions, infection, or debris from the middle ear space. Ear infections are often the result of a previous infection of the throat, mouth, or nose that has relocated and settled in the ears. The common cold, a viral upper respiratory infection, is the major cause of ear infections. After a viral upper respiratory infection such as a cold, bacteria may move into the middle ear as a secondary infection. Because of the highly contagious nature of the common cold, one strategy for prevention of the cold itself and subsequent ear infections is to keep cold viruses at bay. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. Several small muscles located in the back of the throat and the palate control the opening and closing of the tube.


The position of the breastfeeding child is better than the bottlefeeding position for Eustachian tube function. In addition to increasing the chance for acute otitis media, falling asleep with milk in the mouth increases the incidence of tooth decay. Other symptoms include difficulty hearing, fever, fluid drainage from the ears, dizziness, and congestion. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Swallowing and yawning cause contractions of these muscles and help to regulate Eustachian tube function. These symptoms are often associated with signs of upper respiratory infection such as a runny or stuffy nose, or a cough.
Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the MedicineNet Site. If it were not for the Eustachian tube, the middle ear cavity would be an isolated air pocket inside the head that would be vulnerable to every change in air pressure, and lead to an unhealthy ear.



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