Otitis Externa (Pediatric Nursing)

by Paula Ruedebusch

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    00:00 Now let's talk about otitis externa This is inflammation of the external ear canal, or the outer ear It's commonly called swimmer's ear.

    00:09 While there's no relationship between otitis externa and the middle ear pathology such as acute otitis media, these two diseases compose the most common causes of earaches in children.

    00:21 A healthy ear canal typically has a whole range of host defenses.

    00:24 Cerumen , which is earwax creates an acidic coating containing enzymes that inhibit bacterial and fungal growth in the ear canal.

    00:31 The cerumen is also lipid-rich so it can prevent water from penetrating the skin and causing breakdown called maceration.

    00:38 If the patient has too little cerumen, this can predispose the ear canal to infection.

    00:42 But cerumen that is excessive or too viscous can lead to blockages or obstruction, and water and debris can get trapped causing an infection.

    00:51 And when these defenses fail or when the epithelium in the external auditory canal gets damaged, otitis externa can result.

    00:58 It's typically localized and again it's a breakdown in the host defenses.

    01:03 The two most common causes of otitis externa are: excessive moisture, because this can elevate the pH inside the ear canal and this can wash away the protective cerumen.

    01:13 Fluid can also get trapped behind the excessive cerumen or when patients use earbuds, if they're doing a lot of sweating, if they have high humidity in the environment, or from swimming.

    01:23 The second is traums to the ear canal and this is when patients use cotton swabs, fingernails, patients who wear hearing aids or ear plugs SOme patients also have disruption in the integrity of the skin and at baseline.

    01:36 And these are patients with chronicskin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis or acne They will always have a defect in their integrity of their epithelium increasing their risk for otitis externa.

    01:50 There are multiple potential causes of otitis externa.

    01:53 This includes gram negative bacteria such as pseudomonas Proteus species like Klebsiella and Haemophilus in about 30% of infections are polymicrobial Gram-positive bacteria can also cause otitis externa including staph aureus and staph pyogenes This can be caused by fungus such as candida, and viruses - herpes simplex virus and herpes zoster Signs and symptoms of otitis externa.

    02:22 The most characteristic symptom, what the patient feels is discomfort, and that's limited to that external auditory canal while the most characteristic sign which is what teh clinician will see, is erythema and swelling in the ear canal There may or may not be discharge Other signs and symptoms include itching, purulent drainage in the canal, pain with manipulation of the pinna or the tragus so when you go to examine your patient that is quite painful, the patient may have decreased hearing secondary to external canal swelling and the presence of debris in the canal and an enlarge postauricular and preauricular lymph node chain The picture on the right demonstrates the inflamed and infected canal and the purulent discharge On exam, the patient's usually quite uncomfortable, sometimes they're holding their ear having a hot pack to their ear You need to try to perform an otoscopic exam and this is challenging because already the patient has a lot of pain and the clinician really needs to manipulate the external ear and try to insert a speculum to view the the tympanic membrane There's going to be swelling and redness of the external ear canal The clinician will note purulent material in the canal - this can be pus, this can be blood or mixture.

    03:38 And the tympanic membrane, sometimes it's difficult or impossible to visualize bcause of the swelling and you just need to note this in your documentation.

    03:46 The diagnosis is based on history and clinical exam.

    03:50 How do we treat otitis externa? First if you can and the patient can tolerate it, you might want to clean out the canal.

    03:57 ANd this can be from irrigation or you can use a curette, you might want to get the debris out as that might be causing the problem Once teh debris is out and the canal is clear, the patient will begin a combination eardrop and this is a combination because this has antibiotics to treat teh infection and a steroid component to help with the inflammation.

    04:16 We ask out patients to lay flat on one side so that ear is facing up and then fill the ear canal with drops, sometimes it's 5, sometimes it's 10 depending on the size of the patient and we have them lay like that for about 10 minutes or so, then they can put a cotton ball on that side, if it's bilateral, they'll flip and do the other side.

    04:32 And then other than that, teh patient will try and keep their ear canals clean and dry for at least 10 days, so this include the ear plugs when showering or swimming and not inserting anything into the ear.

    04:43 The patient's gonna need some sort of pain control, and this can be over the counter, analgesics like NSAIDS or Tylenol.

    04:50 An ear wick can be used to pull the medication into the external ear A heating pad can be used on the external ear for comfort, And these infections can be difficult to treat in immunocompromised host Swimmers can help prevent this by wearing earplugs when they swim Or they can instill a solution of half-vinegar or hal-isopropyl alcohol after this one.

    05:15 Complications of acute otitis externa are rare.

    05:18 It is typically a localized process that controls these topical agents.

    05:22 But if it;s not optimally treated especiallyin immunocompromised host, a potentially life-threatening infection can spread to the surrounding tissues.

    05:30 Necrotizing otitis externa is an invasive infection in auditory canal and the base of the skull and this typically occurs in elderly patients with diabetes mellitus.

    05:41 Mastoiditis is inflammation or infection of the mastoid bone, which is part of the temporal bone behind the ear.

    05:47 Chondritis of the auricle can spread to the otitis externa to the pinna of the ear and this is most common in patients with newly-pierced ears.

    05:56 Central nervous system infection can develop And cellulitis, which is an infection of the surrouding skin.

    06:03 Now remember topical ear treatments such as drops and suspensions are not effective in managing the condition once one of these complications has developed.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Otitis Externa (Pediatric Nursing) by Paula Ruedebusch is from the course Eye, Ear, and Throat Disorders – Pediatric Nursing.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Moisture
    2. Mechanical trauma
    3. Allergies
    4. Exposure to infection
    5. Chronic dermatological conditions
    1. Erythema and swelling in the ear canal
    2. Itching on the external canal
    3. Decreased hearing
    4. Pain with manipulation
    1. "Be sure to complete the full dose of antibiotics and take the steroids exactly as directed."
    2. "You can use ear plugs or a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and isopropyl alcohol in your ear after being in the water."
    3. "Pain is best treated with acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen."
    4. "Be sure to clean your ear canal by inserting a swab deep into the canal."
    5. "You can apply a cold pack to the site to help provide comfort."

    Author of lecture Otitis Externa (Pediatric Nursing)

     Paula Ruedebusch

    Paula Ruedebusch

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