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Orbital Cellulitis in Children

Orbital Cellulitis in Children

Orbital cellulitis is an eye condition that can develop in both adults and children. This condition can potentially be very serious if it is not treated properly. Learning more about this orbital cellulitis will help you to understand the symptoms and treatment options associated with this condition.

What is Orbital Cellulitis?

Orbital cellulitis is a type of infection that impacts the area around the eye (the orbit). It can affect the tissues in the eyebrows, the eyelids and even the cheek. It can be very painful and can potentially lead to serious complications. Orbital cellulitis in children is typically caused by a type of bacteria that causes a sinus infection known as Haemophilus influenzae. Children that are between the ages of six and seven are at the greatest risk for this type of infection. It can also be caused by a stye on the eye, surgery, bug bites or injury to the eyelid. This condition can also be caused by a strep or staph infection. Dental infections can spread and occasionally cause orbital cellulitis.

Symptoms of Orbital Cellulitis

Orbital cellulitis in children or adults can be very painful. Many children with the condition complain of pain in the eye and vision loss. They may also experience a reduced ability to move the eye and a bulging of the affected eye(s). Redness and swelling of the eyelid, discharge, fever (over 102 degrees), a shiny eyelid and difficulty opening the eye are also common symptoms of this condition.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Quick treatment is essential when children are suffering from orbital cellulitis. This condition can progress rapidly and if proper treatment is not administered it can lead to blindness. It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect that you or your child has this condition. Generally treatment will consist of antibiotic treatment. Children are typically admitted into the hospital for observation while they receive intensive IV antibiotic treatment. The patient will also receive laboratory testing including wound cultures to better determine the proper treatment course. Generally antibiotics like penicillin or cephalosporin will be used. If the orbital cellulitis is caused by MRSA (a drug resistant Staph infection) stronger antibiotics may be needed. Once the IV antibiotic course is completed the patient will often continue their treatment with a round of oral antibiotics taken from home for the next two to three weeks. Sometimes surgery is needed to properly treat orbital cellulitis. Surgery is generally the chosen treatment method if the infection is an imminent threat to either vision or the brain. Typically surgery will drain the infection. There is a good chance of recovery without long term complication if immediate treatment is administered.

What Complications Can Occur as a Result of Orbital Cellulitis?

If immediate treatment is not sought or if the treatment is not successful there is a chance for serious complications as a result of orbital cellulitis. This condition can progress very rapidly and can become serious very quickly. Many different complications can occur including hearing loss, meningitis, optic nerve damage, blood infection, vision loss or blindness and in serious cases, death.

Prevention of Orbital Cellulitis

The best way to treat orbital cellulitis is to prevent the infection from happening. Young children can greatly reduce their risk of infection by getting the HiB vaccination on schedule. This vaccination will keep children from contracting an infection as a result of Haemophilus exposure which is one of the primary causes of orbital cellulitis in children. Children that have been exposed directly to this bacterium may be treated with antibiotics as a preventative measure. Additionally it is important to immediately address problems like sinus infections or dental infections as these infections can spread to the orbit. Orbital cellulitis in children can be serious, but with early treatment and proper prevention it will generally not cause any long term problems. It is important to make sure that your children receive their vaccinations on schedule and that you seek medical treatment for infections to keep this serious condition from occurring. If a child has signs of orbital cellulitis you should take them to a doctor immediately since early treatment is important and this type of infection can spread rapidly.

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