Acute otitis media or middle ear infections are a leading cause of stress, trauma, and expense in early childhood. In addition, acute otitis media can lead to hearing loss causing children to have delays with their speech and language development and to miss key aspects of their schooling. Now, a vaccine gives hope that acute childhood ear infections, those requiring antibiotics, might be a thing of the past.
Acute otitis media is a build up of fluid in the middle ear due to bacteria or other conditions like sinus problems that results in an inability to regulate the pressure in the middle ear, leading to inflammation and ear infections. Acute ear infections due to the inflammation of the middle ear can result in children not hearing in a range from mild to extreme hearing loss. It is also a major factor in children visits to the emergency room and can result in the need for tubes placed in the ear, an expensive surgery.
As the health care system looks for ways to diminish costs, the focus has fallen on acute otitis media and the prevalence of childhood ear infections. According to Science Daily, "AOM accounts for approximately $2.88 billion in added health care expenses annually and is a significant health-care utilization concern."
It appears that the stress, costs, and pain of ear infections could be on the decline thanks to a vaccine that has been available since 2000. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine has gone through several variations and is only recently become available to as much as ninety percent of the population, but even the early indications are that it is effective in reducing otitis media and in reducing the use of antibiotics. The reduction of antibiotic use is important as there is a push to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria by using less antibiotics. Beginning this reduction in childhood is important also because antibiotics are known to diminish useful bacteria inside the gut. The loss of this bacteria can result in a host of digestion problems including issues with processing wheat and gluten.
Science Daily, "Eighty percent of children will have experienced one or more episodes of otitis media by their third birthday, and more than 40 percent will have had three or more episodes." That means that the quietly unheralded vaccine is making the world a better place one child at a time. Researchers continue to monitor their success, as the below video demonstrates.
If you suspect your child has experienced loss of hearing it's important to see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a qualified hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences. "Are you listening? Kids' ear infections cost US health care system nearly $3 billion a year." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109175458.htm (accessed June 5, 2014).
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Ear infections down, thanks to vaccine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125164654.htm (accessed June 5, 2014).