Q&A with a Mercy Ear, Nose and Throat doctor

If you have kids, especially babies, toddlers and preschoolers, then you’ve probably seen a few ear infections and endured the misery they can cause for kids and parents. We recently interviewed Dr. Chad Putman of dr-chad-putman-entMercy to find out what causes ear infections, the tell-tale symptoms, genetic predisposition and treatment with antibiotics.

What causes most ear infections in children?

Middle ear infections (Acute Otitis Media) are infections that occur behind the ear drum and occur in children due to their Eustachian tubes not working well. These are the small tubes that open in the back of our nose that normally equalize the pressure behind our ear drums and cause our ears to pop when we fly on an airplane.

What are the red flag symptoms parents should know about which might indicate that their baby or child has an ear infection?

Typical symptoms include nasal congestion, fever, and irritability since most ear infections are the result of an underlying upper respiratory infection. The only way to know for sure is to look at the ear drum.

Can a child be genetically predisposed to ear infections?

There have been some studies that link an increased frequency of ear infections in identical twins or triplets compared to other siblings in the same family. More research is being done to develop more specific genes and hopefully someday tests to allow us to determine who might be at a higher risk.

Should an ear infection always be treated with antibiotics?

The short answer is yes. Many studies show antibiotics reduce how long ear infections last and generally improves how the child feels while recovering. They also reduce the frequency of other rare complications that middle ear infections can cause.

We had SO many questions for Dr. Putman on this topic and several others, so look for a series of posts which continue our interview with him in the weeks to come.