An ear infection or otitis media is the commonest cause of earaches. It is a group of middle ear diseases where there is inflammation. There are two main types: otitis media with effusion and acute otitis media. In acute otitis media, it is an infection that mostly affects young children causing them to cry and unable to sleep. Chronic suppurative otitis media is middle ear inflammation that is more than two weeks resulting in discharge from the ear. Acute otitis media is seen to occur due to bacteria or viruses. The risk factors include the use of pacifiers, exposure to smoke, and daycare attendance. It has also been observed to be more common among those with Down syndrome and indigenous people.
Otitis media with effusion is more commonly seen after acute otitis media, viral upper respiratory infections, allergies, and irritants such as smoke. The risk of ear infections can be reduced through breastfeeding, vaccinations (pneumococcal and influenza), and avoiding irritants such as tobacco smoke. The treatment of ear infections includes the use of painkillers such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, and benzocaine ear drops. In some cases, antibiotics may help to speed recovery but can result in side effects. It is recommended in patients under the age of two and severe cases.
Tympanostomy tubes can be used in patients with frequent infections to lower the rates of recurrence. Globally, acute otitis media occurs in approximately 11% of individuals with a total between 325 to 710 million cases. 50 percent of cases involve those under the age of 5 years old. An additional 31 million go on to develop chronic suppurative otitis media. About 80 percent of children are affected by otitis media with effusion before the age of 10 years old. In 2015, ear infections resulted in 3,200 deaths.
Ear Infection Symptom #1: Poor Appetite
Poor appetite or decreased appetite is also known as anorexia. In cases where there is infection, anorexia has been thought to be part of the acute phase response that is triggered by the components of pathogens. Examples include peptidoglycans and lipopolysaccharides from bacterial cell walls, double stranded viral RNA, bacterial DNA, and viral glycoproteins that trigger the release of proinflammatory cytokines.
Some causes of poor appetite include pneumonia, anxiety, appendicitis, cancer, celiac disease, heart failure, and more. In otitis media, there can be pain during swallowing as well which may contribute to the loss of appetite.
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