Otitis Media: Neurologic Complications in Adults and Children

Posted by:gulf onJune 1, 2018

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Image source: Clinical Advisor 

While infants and children are more vulnerable to ear infections (may be related to hygiene habits and developing or underdeveloped immune systems), otitis media in adults may mean a subsidiary ear disease such as cholesteatoma, an abnormal, non-cancerous skin growth that can develop behind the eardrum, and chronic otitis media, a persistently draining perforation of the eardrum. Furthermore, adults suffering from otitis media likely have an underlying illness, such as diabetes, resulting to higher incidence of complications; and these include neurological complications.

A study published in the Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports that appeared in March 2018 emphasizes the importance of increasing awareness on the possible development of neurologic signs and symptoms that are a result of acute and chronic otitis media complications.

There are differences in signs and symptoms between children and adults. Neurologic complications in children may be likened to meningitis, with nausea and vomiting as the main symptoms. Adults on the other hand demonstrate signs of stroke, such as neurological deficits and decreased consciousness level. Furthermore, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), which refers to the presence of blood clot in the dural venous sinuses, is according to studies, more often grows in children than in adults. Other complications include severe headache, neck stiffness, high fever, malaise, brain abscess and even altered mental condition or level of thinking/response.

To prevent such scenario from occurring, individuals, especially children, who are suspected of having acute or chronic ear infections should undergo appropriate screening and hearing tests to receive proper hearing health care and stop the situation from worsening. A potentially damaging, and sometimes even fatal problem may occur if left undiagnosed. And the resulting case may require a more expensive, more complex, and long-term treatment that would likely hinder an individual’s family, work, and social life.

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