Friday, 20 March 2009

Otitis Media (ear infection)

In simple terms, otitis media is an ear infection. It is inflammation of the inner ear, often caused by moisture which gets collected in the ear or by minor injury to the ear canal. The moisture often collects after swimming or bathing. Often allergies cause liquid to build up in the ear. Injuries often occur with hard impact with water or careless or intense use of cotton swabs. Discomfort, bacterial growth, or infection generally results. 

Behind the eardrums is located the section of the ear called the middle ear, which houses a complex arrangement of tiny bones sensitive to sound waves. When sound waves pass over the middle ear, it transmits the sound to the inner ear. Nearby, the Eustachian tube connects the ear to the nose. 

Otitis media may result from foreign matter breathed in through the nose, which irritates the Eustachian tube to the point of swelling and liquid from the ears can no longer drain through the nose and into the throat. In children, the Eustachian tube is shorter and less slanted, allowing bacteria to more easily arrive in the middle ear. 

In trying to identify otitis media, it is helpful to be aware of the following symptoms: 

Pus or fluid in the Eustachian tube or in the ear 
Sensation of fullness in the ear 
Pain in the ear 
Inflammation in the ear 
Hearing loss 

Coughing and a runny nose are often associated with upper respiratory infections and should be monitored. Otitis media is most commonly found in children, persons with allergies, and persons with medical conditions such as a cleft palate. 

Children are by far the leading demographic of individuals affected by otitis media. Research shows otitis media to rank second to the common cold as the most common health problem among preschoolers. The fact that at least 50% of all children have at least one episode of otitis media before the age of one is startling at the very least. But before the age three, 35% of children will have had repeat episodes. And after three-years old, an estimated 5 million school days are missed each year due to otitis media. 

Prevention is easy. Most of us remember to wash our hands frequently to avoid picking up bacteria from what we touch. However, most of us fail to remember to wash or flush out our nasal passages at least every now and then to avoid harboring bacteria from what we breathe. 

Look for xylitol as leading ingredient as you are searching for nasal rinse or spray. Xylitol naturally keeps bacteria from settling on the membranes of the nose, the throat, and the Eustachian tube. Flushing with a nasal wash with xylitol, is a simple yet important solution to a flourishing health epidemic. 

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