Acute otitis media is the presence of fluid, typically pus in the middle ear with symptoms of pain, redness of the eardrum and possibly fever.
Other forms of otitis media are either more chronic (fluid is present in the middle ear for six weeks or more) or middle ear fluid is transient and not necessarily infected (in which case it is called otitis media with effusion or otitis serosa).
Pediatricians try to distinguish between the different types of otitis because accurate diagnosis impacts on the various treatment options. Not all types of otitis require antibiotic treatment.
Children get ear infections more frequently during the first two to four years of life for several reasons:
Their eustachian tubes are shorter and more horizontal, allowing viruses and bacteria easier access to the middle ear. Their trunks are also more narrow and soft, which favors clogging.
Adenoids or vegetations, which are structures of glandular tissue located in the back and top of the throat near the eustachian tubes are large in young children, so they can partially block the opening of these tubes.
Other factors may also contribute to children develop ear infections, and exposure to smoke snuff, bottle feeding and the fact attend preschool.
Ear infections are also more common in boys than in girls, in children with a family history of repeated ear infections and during the colder months when colds and infections of the upper respiratory tract abound.
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