Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can a Middle Ear Infection Cause Vomiting and Diarrhea?

QUESTION: Can you help us make some sense out of problem diagnosed as a middle ear infection? We have had a terrible time with our baby boy (age 2) and the doctor feels that this ear infection is causing all of his problems including vomiting and diarrhea.
Is this possible? What should we do?

ANSWER: This is certainly the season for Otitis Media (the medical name for the condition) to rear its head, as it is most frequently seen during the winter months and early spring.
It is more common in younger children under the age of 6, and boys seem to suffer from it more frequently than girls.
As you have probably been told, it is a bacterial infection located in the middle ear, and usually is seen a few days after the beginning of a common cold or other upper respiratory infection.
It is not a pleasant situation for your youngster, who will display all the signs of pain in the ear, crying and even screaming, certainly increased irritability, fever and disturbed sleep.
Yes, acute otitis media may even provoke vomiting and diarrhea.
And it is not a diagnosis that should be treated lightly, as serious complications, including hearing difficulties and language and speech development problems, may occur if proper therapy and follow-up is not carried out.
The first line of defense will be the use of antibiotics, which usually are quite effective.
In the event that the first prescription fails to obtain the desired results, a change may be made, as there are many antibiotics that may be used in these cases.
Your baby should be seen regularly following the conquest of the present acute situation, to prevent possible recurrence.

The material contained here is "FOR INFORMATION ONLY" and should not replace the counsel and advice of your personal physician.
Promptly consulting your doctor is the best path to a quick and successful resolution of any medical problem.