Does your child have an ear infection?
- The first thing to notice if your child has an ear infection or sickness is by observing a change of mood.
- Does your baby get fussy or are they crying more than usual? This signifies a problem.
- Do they have a fever? The fever could be slight or high. It is possible to have an ear infection without a fever.
- Have they had a cold or runny nose? Ear infections tend to follow a common cold or sinus infection.
- Is your baby pulling, grabbing, or tugging at the ears? This could be a sign that your child is in pain.
- Has your baby been experiencing diarrhea or vomiting? The bug that causes the ear infection can also cause trouble in the gastrointestinal tract. A fever can also cause problems in this area.
- Do they have a reduced appetite? Ear infections can cause an upset stomach. They can also make it painful to swallow and chew. If you notice your child pulls away from the breast or bottle after the first few sips and cries they may have an ear infection.
- Is there yellow or white fluid draining from the ear? This doesn’t happen frequently, but it’s a sign of infection. It can also signal that there is a small hole in the eardrum. This should heal after the infection is treated.
- Is your child having difficulty sleeping? Lying down can make an ear infection more painful. Lying down puts more pressure on the eustachian tubes.
Ear infections are the most common disorder in children next to the common cold. More than 80 percent of children will be diagnosed with ear infections by the time they are 3. If your child seems ill or has a fever, see your pediatrician.
What is an Ear Infection?
An ear infection happens when there is inflammation in the middle ear. It is usually caused by bacteria that happens when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Children tend to get ear infections more frequently than adults. Studies show that five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. Ear infections are the most common reason that parents bring their children to see a doctor.
Ways to Avoid Childhood Ear Infections
- Breastfeed your baby for the first year. Breast milk contains antibodies and may cut the risk of ear infections. If you bottle-feed, keep your baby sitting up. It is easier for milk to flow into the middle ear if your baby is drinking a bottle lying down.
- Prevent Colds. Wash your child’s hands often. If it’s possible, limit their time in daycare and choose settings with fewer children.
- Don’t Smoke. Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are two to three times more likely to get ear infections compared to other children.
- Vaccinate. Research has shown that vaccinated children have fewer ear infections.
How to lessen the pain of an ear infection.
To lessen the pain or discomfort your child is experiencing, your pediatrician may recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never give your child aspirin because it makes them more susceptible to Reye’s syndrome.
Don’t take your child on a plane when they are experiencing ear problems. The air pressure can increase the pain and even rupture the eardrum.
Call your doctor at the first sign of an ear infection. The doctor will need to investigate your baby’s ear. If the eardrum is red, bulging, or draining, it’s probably infected. The doctor may check to see if the eardrum moves in response to a pneumatic otoscope. This checks to see if fluid is collecting in the middle ear and may be infected.
What happens if my child gets recurring ear infections?
To keep a middle ear infection from recurring, it helps to limit things that might increase their risk. Keeping them away from people who smoke. Not going to bed with a bottle. Despite those preventative measures, children may continue to develop chronic ear infections.
The doctor may wait for a few months to see if things get better on their own. But if they keep coming back and antibiotics don’t help, the doctor may recommend tubes in their ears. This is a surgical procedure where they place small ventilation tubes in the eardrum to improve airflow and prevent fluid from backing up in the middle ear. Ear tubes could be essential to your child’s health.
Can Ear Tubes help with recurrent ear infections in babies?
Babies who get recurrent ear infections or have one ear infection that doesn’t clear up for months even with antibiotic treatment may be good candidates for ear tubes. 670,000 children in the US have this procedure each year.
An otolaryngologist makes a tiny incision in the child’s eardrum and inserts a small tube into the slit. The tube releases pressure and acts as a vent. This lets air in and allows fluid out, so bacteria don’t flourish. It’s an artificial eustachian tube that lets the ear breathe.
Your child’s doctor may suggest this solution because a baby that has persistent fluid in its ears is a prime candidate for repeated ear infections and hearing loss.
Ear Infections in babies can be very serious. A severe or untreated infection can rupture the baby’s eardrum. Ruptures don’t happen very often but it’s important to follow up with the doctor to make sure the ear infection has cleared up and the eardrum is healing. Repeated infections of the ear can sometimes cause hearing loss and scaring.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. This information does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health or the health of your children.
Colorado ENT & Allergy is the regional leader in Colorado Springs for ear, nose, throat, and allergy care, providing a full range of the highest-quality, patient-centered services.