Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by Otonomy, Inc., makers of OTIPRIO® (ciprofloxacin otic suspension). I wrote this article based on my own child’s experiences with ear tube surgery.
What You Need To Know About Ear Infections
My daughter was only 9 months old when she experienced her first ear infection. While I was admittedly concerned given her young age, I already had experience with otitis media with effusion (OME) and subsequent tube placement (aka bilateral myringotomy with tubes) with my son. My daughter was two years old and my son was three when they underwent ear tube surgery, and as a nurse and a parent, my concerns and questions were common and numerous. Fortunately, I had expert ENT physicians who provided me with information and reassurance that both of my children would eventually outgrow their chronic ear infections, and if I followed their advice, they would thrive with their hearing and speech restored.
Ear Infections are Common
Despite my knowledge of ear infections in children, receiving the diagnosis for both my son and daughter sparked many questions and concerns. Defined as an infection or inflammation of the middle ear, otitis media is very common, with over 75 percent of children experiencing an infection by the age of 3. Some children, including my own, have recurrent ear infections – sometimes as many as five or six a year.
What Are the Signs of Ear Infection?
While my son was verbal by the time he experienced his first ear infection, my daughter was not. This made identifying her first ear infection more difficult. Common signs include tugging at the ears, excessive fussiness and/or crying, difficulty sleeping, fever, fluid draining from the ears, and difficulty hearing. Both of my kids’ ear infections presented with pain and fever, which made it difficult to distinguish from the common cold or other respiratory infections. After both of my children experienced recurrent ear infections, we were referred to an ENT who formulated a plan for managing them.
Can Ear Infections Be Prevented?
The anatomy of a child’s upper respiratory system combined with their weaker immune system can predispose children to ear infections. Minimizing exposure to illness, along with receiving the recommended vaccinations can lower a child’s risk for ear infections.
How Are Ear Infections Treated?
When a child has an ear infection, oral antibiotics may be prescribed as an initial treatment method. My daughter was also prescribed concurrent antibiotic ear drops as her infections became more frequent. When a child has persistent or recurrent ear infections, the ENT may recommend ear tube surgery. The placement of tubes through the tympanic membrane allows fluid to drain, which relieves the pain and pressure from ear infections.
How Do I Know If My Child Needs Ear Tubes?
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, children who experience recurrent ear infections should be considered for ear tube surgery. Recurrent ear infections are defined as 3 or more episodes in 6 months or 4 or more episodes in 12 months. When my daughter had experienced her 3rd ear infection in just three short months, I knew that she would need more than antibiotics. Admittedly, I did not like the idea of having her placed under anesthesia for the procedure, but we were fortunate to have a physician who was patient with our questions and allowed me to be with my daughter right before and immediately after the procedure.
What Type of Aftercare is Necessary Following Ear Tube Surgery?
While ear tube surgery is quick, minimally invasive, and effective, there were aftercare precautions that we also had to follow. Along with monitoring for infection and drainage, we had to keep her ears dry and insert drops four times a day for a week after the procedure. As you can imagine, my daughter already had an aversion to anyone getting near her ears. Her recurrent infections meant that she was apprehensive about anyone (even her parents) putting anything in her ear. I never knew if those drops went in (and stayed in) properly and I disliked having to hold her down to insert the drops.
A prescription only product called OTIPRIO, also known as ciprofloxcin otic suspension, is an option for parents to consider for their child. This is the first single-dose antibiotic treatment that can be administered by your child’s doctor during ear tube surgery. The antibiotic can be used in children 6 months and older with OME in both ears that require ear tubes. OTIPRIO may not be for all children as kids who are allergic to ciprofloxacin or products from the same type of antibiotic class (quinolones) or to the ingredients in OTIPRIO should not receive it. There are situations in which OTIPRIO may cause bacteria or fungi that are resistant to antibiotics to grow so the doctor will treat your child’s infection with a different medicine. In the clinical testing of OTIPRIO, the side effects reported the most were swelling ofthe nasal passages, irritability, and runny nose.
If OTIPRIO were available when my kids needed ear tube surgery, I would have requested it. I think it could have helped me avoid the challenge of giving ear drops after surgery. If your child is scheduled to have ear tube surgery, I encourage you to ask your doctor about OTIPRIO.
While my daughter’s experience with ear infections was not the norm, we were fortunate to have a skilled ENT who helped ensure that her complications were minimized and that her hearing was not affected. If you have a child who is suffering from chronic ear infections, I encourage you to ask questions here in this space. I hope that sharing my daughter’s story will help alleviate some of the anxiety you may be feeling.
Please see full Prescribing Information at www.otiprio.com/prescribing-information.pdf