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Otitis: Understanding and treating : Your online pharmacy selection

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What is otitis and what are its main symptoms?

Otitis is an inflammation of the ear, which can affect different parts of this organ. Depending on the area affected, a distinction is made betweenotitis externa,otitis media andotitis interna. Symptoms vary according to the type of otitis, but generally include acute ear pain, a feeling of pressure, possible hearing loss, fever and sometimes discharge. Otitis media can also manifest as a blocked ear sensation and exacerbated pain when chewing.

What are the most common causes of otitis?

Otitis can be caused by a number of factors.Otitis externa is often caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, usually following prolonged exposure to water (a common occurrence among swimmers). Otitis media, on the other hand, is often the result of an upper respiratory infection, which causes fluid to accumulate behind the eardrum, creating an environment conducive to bacterial or viral proliferation. Allergies, smoking and changes in air pressure can also play a role.

How is an otitis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of otitis is primarily clinical. A doctor can diagnose this condition by examining the ear with an otoscope, an instrument used to visualize the eardrum and inner ear. Signs of redness, swelling, air bubbles or pus may indicate otitis. Sometimes, additional tests such as audiometry or tympanometry may be required to assess the impact of otitis on hearing.

What treatments are available for otitis?

Treatment of otitis depends on the type and severity of inflammation. Forotitis externa, ear drops containing antibiotics and corticosteroids are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and eradicate infection. In the case of otitis media, oral antibiotics may be necessary, especially if the infection is thought to be bacterial. It is crucial to follow the prescribed treatment and complete the antibiotic cycle to avoid recurrence or bacterial resistance.

What are the best practices for preventing otitis?

To prevent otitis, it's advisable to maintain good ear hygiene, but not to use cotton buds, which can push earwax deeper into the ear. After bathing or showering, dry your ears thoroughly. Avoiding smoking and promptly treating any upper respiratory tract infection can also reduce the risk of otitis. For children, vaccination against certain bacteria such as pneumococcus can also reduce the frequency of otitis media.

What's the difference between acute and chronic otitis?

Acute otitis is a sudden onset of inflammation of the ear, usually resolving in a few days or weeks with appropriate treatment. It is often caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Chronic otitis, on the other hand, is characterized by symptoms that persist or recur over a long period, often several months. This form of otitis can result from ongoing damage to the middle or outer ear, and requires regular medical monitoring to avoid complications such as permanent hearing loss.

How does otitis affect hearing?

Otitis can affect hearing in several ways. An accumulation of fluid or pus behind the eardrum, as in the case ofotitis media with effusion, can lead to a sensation of a blocked ear and a temporary reduction in hearing. If the inflammation or infection damages the eardrum or ossicles of the middle ear, this can lead to conductive hearing loss. In severe or untreated cases, otitis can even cause permanent hearing loss.

Are children more likely to develop otitis?

Yes, children are particularly susceptible to developing otitis, mainly due to the size and shape of their Eustachian tubes, which are shorter and less inclined than in adults. This facilitates the passage of microbes from the throat to the middle ear. What's more, children's immune systems are less developed, making them more vulnerable to infection. Ear infections are one of the most frequent reasons for medical consultation and antibiotic treatment in young children.

When should I consult a doctor about an ear infection?

We recommend consulting a doctor if symptoms of otitis, such as pain, fever, hearing loss or ear discharge, worsen or do not improve after a few days. For children and babies, immediate consultation is recommended in the event of otitis symptoms, especially if the child is very young or shows signs of distress, such as incessant crying or refusal to eat. Prompt treatment is crucial to avoid complications.

Are there any natural remedies for otitis?

Although some natural remedies can relieve the symptoms of otitis, it's important to consult a doctor before trying them, especially if the infection is severe. Methods such as applying warm compresses to the ear or using certain diluted essential oils can reduce pain and discomfort. However, these methods are no substitute for prescribed medical treatment, especially for bacterial infections requiring antibiotics.