TUESDAY, Oct. 6, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Early diagnosis and treatment of ear infections can help avoid life-threatening complications for organ-transplant patients, a new study finds.
Researchers who reviewed the medical records of 3,278 organ-transplant patients in South Korea found that 2 percent had the ear infection known as chronic otitis media. Liver transplant patients accounted for 31 cases, kidney transplant patients for 28 and heart transplant patients for six.
Of the 65 patients who developed the infections, nine required surgery, 26 got better when treated with antibiotics and 30 were watched but didn't undergo treatment before their organ transplants.
The researchers report that worsening ear infection cases were less common among those who underwent surgery compared to those who took medications or had no treatment.
Organ-transplant patients who have had their immunity suppressed can develop ear infections that don't show symptoms. That can result in transplantation failure, a potentially fatal condition, the study authors explained. Effective treatment of ear infections can make a major difference in whether organ transplantation succeeds, they added.
While ear infections are best known as a condition affecting children, they can also strike adults and cause severe pain, hearing loss and other complications.
The research was scheduled to be presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery Foundation annual meeting, held Oct. 4 to 7 in San Diego, Calif.
Learn more about ear infections from the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.