Earache Caused By Earwax
When wax begins to build up in the ear canal, it is tempting to take a cotton swab in order to remove it. However, this will only push the wax build-up further into the ear canal and risk further damage. Instead, it is better to get ear drops from a doctor. These are designed to help soften the wax so it will fall out naturally. In some scenarios, the doctor may have to remove the wax after softening it because the build-up is too severe.
How Do I Know If My Child Has An Ear Infection
Older children will usually complain of an earache. While younger children might not be able to say they have an earache, they may:
- have an unexplained fever,
- tug or pull at their ears, or
- have trouble hearing quiet sounds.
Some children with an ear infection may also have fluid draining from the ear.
Fluid Or Pus Draining From Your Child’s Ear:
While not very common, this is a definite sign of infection, so call the doctor right away. Yellow, white, or green drainage from the ear can signal a perforated eardrum, a condition that can develop if the fluid in the middle ear puts so much pressure on the eardrum that it bursts.
Although a burst eardrum may sound scary and can be very painful for your child, the hole is not serious and will usually heal by itself. And the good news is that your child may start to feel better as fluid drains and pressure decreases.
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Cause Of Ear Infections
- A bacterial infection of the middle ear
- Blocked eustachian tube, usually as part of a common cold. The eustachian tube joins the middle ear to the back of the throat.
- Blockage results in middle ear fluid .
- If the fluid becomes infected , the fluid turns to pus. This causes the eardrum to bulge out and can cause a lot of pain.
- Ear infections peak at age 6 months to 2 years. They are a common problem until age 8.
- The onset of ear infections is often on day 3 of a cold.
- How often do kids get ear infections? 90% of children have at least 1 ear infection. Frequent ear infections occur in 20% of children. Ear infections are the most common bacterial infection of young children.
When Else Are Antibiotics Needed
Antibiotics can be the right treatment for kids who get a lot of ear infections. Their doctors might prescribe daily antibiotics to help prevent future infections. And younger children or those with more severe illness may need antibiotics right from the start.
The “wait-and-see” approach also might not apply to children with other concerns, such as cleft palate, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, or other illnesses such as immune system disorders.
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How Is An Ear Infection Diagnosed
Your doctor will check for an ear infection by using a small scope with a light to look into your childs ear. They will know if the eardrum is infected if it looks red. Other signs of infection they may see include fluid in the ear or a ruptured eardrumwhich leaves a hole. Your doctor will also look for other symptoms in your child, such as a runny nose, cough, fever, vomiting, and dizziness.
Infections Inside The Ear
Antibiotics are not usually offered because infections inside the ear often clear up on their own and antibiotics make little difference to symptoms, including pain.
Antibiotics might be prescribed if:
- an ear infection does not start to get better after 3 days
- you or your child has any fluid coming out of the ear
- you or your child has an illness that means there’s a risk of complications, such as cystic fibrosis
They may also be prescribed if your child is less than 2 years old and has an infection in both ears.
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What Are The Harms Of Fluid Buildup In Your Ears Or Repeated Or Ongoing Ear Infections
Most ear infections dont cause long-term problems, but when they do happen, complications can include:
- Loss of hearing: Some mild, temporary hearing loss usually occurs during an ear infection. Ongoing infections, infections that repeatedly occur, damage to internal structures in the ear from a buildup of fluid can cause more significant hearing loss.
- Delayed speech and language development: Children need to hear to learn language and develop speech. Muffled hearing for any length of time or loss of hearing can significantly delay or hamper development.
- Tear in the eardrum: A tear can develop in the eardrum from pressure from the long-lasting presence of fluid in the middle ear. About 5% to 10% of children with an ear infection develop a small tear in their eardrum. If the tear doesnt heal on its own, surgery may be needed. If you have drainage/discharge from your ear, do not place anything into your ear canal. Doing so can be dangerous if there is an accident with the item touching the ear drum.
- Spread of the infection: Infection that doesnt go away on its own, is untreated or is not fully resolved with treatment may spread beyond the ear. Infection can damage the nearby mastoid bone . On rare occasions, infection can spread to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord and cause meningitis.
How To Treat Ear Infection In Toddlers
The following treatment procedures could be used to treat an ear infection in toddlers :
- Antibiotics: A course of antibiotics are prescribed along with eardrops to alleviate pain and inflammation. The duration of the antibiotic course and the type of antibiotics depend on the severity of ear infection and toddlers age. Common antibiotics prescribed for ear infections are cefprozil and amoxicillin. If the toddler has a fever, then he would be prescribed fever alleviating medicines such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Tympanostomy tubes: If a toddler suffers from repeated ear infections, then the doctor may recommend insertion of a tympanostomy tube in the ear. This is done rarely in repeated infections. These tubes are about 1 to 1.5mm in length and made from plastic. It is surgically inserted into the eardrum to provide a passage for the fluids from the middle ear. Since the fluids drain into the ear canal, the middle ear becomes less prone to ear infections. The tympanostomy tube can be designed to stay for as little as six months to three years before they fall off on their own. If the toddler still has no improvement, then a new tube is inserted again. This treatment is a long-term procedure and is only done for toddlers with severe chronic otitis media that repeatedly happens for three consecutive months .
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How Can I Prevent Ear Infections
The best way to prevent ear infections is to reduce the risk factors associated with them. Here are a few things you can do to help protect you and your child from ear infections:
- Get vaccinatedStay up to date on your vaccinations and get your child vaccinated against the flu every year to protect them from viral infections, as it could help prevent the onset of an ear infection.
- Keep hands cleanFrequent hand washing prevents the spread of germs and can help keep your child from catching a cold or the flu.
- Avoid exposure to cigarette smokeChildren who are exposed to cigarette smoke, especially in the home, are more likely to get ear infections. Why? Cigarette smoke not only weakens the immune system but also damages tissues in the nose and throat .
If you have a young child who has been struggling with symptoms of an ear infection for more than 48 hours, please visit Oxford Urgent Care. Our skilled physicians can diagnose and treat ear infections quickly so they can feel better fast.
Visit Oxford Urgent Care for safe, effective ear infection treatment. We welcome walk-in appointments 7 days a week.
Ear Infections And High Fevers
Second, why do ear infections happen? The Eustachian tube that conects the “middle” ear to the back of the throat doesn’t always work as well as we’d like. It can get clogged with mucus from colds or allergies because of its small size and horizontal positioning . This predisposes to fluid collection and poor drainage from the middle ear.
Third, what about the fever and pain? If this fluid can’t drain and then gets infected with germs, particularly bacteria, inflammation and pain can result in the middle ear. But each child and each ear infection is different. Some children just poke at their ears. Some get fever, low or high. Others complain of pain, pointing to the ear or throat. It may start after a few days of a cold, giving a little time for the germs to settle in and cause infection in the middle ear, or it may be found coincidentally when your child is seemingly well.
Finally, how are they treated? Your child’s doctor will often prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection. Realize that it may take up to three or four days for the pain and fever to get better. If these symptoms are not going away or your child just isn’t getting better, touch base with her doctor to see if anything else is recommended.
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Signs Of An Ear Infection
Ear infections are common in babies, and it is helpful to know the classic signs to watch out for:
- Crying and irritability: Your babys ear is most likely painful, so expect crying and irritability. You may notice more crying when your baby lies down. This is because the ear pressure increases with lying down, leading to an increase in pain and discomfort during an ear infection.
- Tugging at the ear: Because your baby is too young to tell you that their ear hurts, look for signs such as tugging on the affected ear.
- Difficulty feeding: The act of sucking and swallowing causes changes in ear pressure and is usually uncomfortable during an ear infection. You may notice that your baby is hungry and seems eager to eat, but stops right away.
- Trouble sleeping: Expect a restless night or two when your baby has an ear infection. Because lying down is painful, your little one will probably wake throughout the night.
- Ear drainage: Its possible for your baby to develop ear drainage with an ear infection. The drainage will appear different than normal ear wax, which is orange-yellow or reddish-brown. Infected drainage may appear white, green, yellow, or blood-tinged and have a foul odor.
- Fever: Its estimated that about 50% of babies and children will develop a fever with an ear infection.
How Long Will It Take My Child To Get Better
Your child should start feeling better within a few days after visiting the doctor. If its been several days and your child still seems sick, call your doctor. Your child might need a different antibiotic. Once the infection clears, fluid may still remain in the middle ear but usually disappears within three to six weeks.
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Symptoms Of Baby Ear Infections
Many parents will notice their baby tugging on their ear or simply acting fussy and assume that they have an ear infection.
However, while ear tugging and fussiness are sometimes signs of ear infections, they can also be the signs of teething, or just general crankiness.
Lets look at all the possible signs of baby ear infections, and how to know whether its time to contact your pediatrician.
Ear Infection Without A Fever
During a bout of swimmer’s ear, it is painful when the outer ear is touched or moved. Sometimes itchiness in the ear canal may occur before the pain. You may see yellow or whitish drainage coming from the ear canal. Your son’s hearing may also be affected, as sound is blocked due to the swelling and inflammation of the skin of the ear canal. However, once the infection is treated, his hearing will return to normal. Fever is uncommon.
The treatment for swimmer’s ear is to use prescription eardrops that kill the bacteria causing the infection and reduce the swelling and inflammation. To help relieve your son’s ear pain, you can give some acetaminophen by mouth. Sometimes a warm cotton cloth or heating pad to the outside of the ear offers some relief. While the infection is being treated, it is important to keep the ear dry. Avoid getting more water in the ear canal with bathing and showering. Swimming is okay, but keeping your child’s head out of the water until the infection has cleared is important.
To prevent future infections, be sure your son dries his ears immediately after swimming. Some people suggest using eardrops with alcohol in them to help keep the ear canal dry. Talk with your son’s pediatrician about what she might recommend.
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What Other Symptoms Are Commonly Associated With An Ear Infection
Other symptoms of ear infection include:
- Ear painThis symptom is easier to diagnose in older children and adults because they can verbalize whats bothering them. For infants and toddlers who are too young to speak, watch for signs of pain like rubbing or tugging on the ears, more crying than usual, difficulty sleeping, and increased irritability.
- Loss of appetitePressure in the middle ear changes when swallowing, which can lead to increased pain and therefore a decreased desire to eat. This may be most noticeable in babies and very young children, especially during bottle or breastfeeding.
- Poor sleepPressure in the middle ear may also intensify when laying down, which can lead to increased pain and difficulty sleeping.
- Drainage from the earYellow, brown, or white fluid may seep from the ear during an ear infection. This often means the eardrum has ruptured . A ruptured eardrum usually heals within a few weeks without treatment, but always check with your primary care physician or local urgent care because surgical repair may be required to facilitate proper healing.
- Difficulty hearingBones of the middle ear connect to nerves that send electrical signals to the brain. When fluid builds up behind the eardrums, the movement of these electrical signals slows down making it more difficult to hear clearly.
What Are The Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
There are three main types of ear infections. Each has a different combination of symptoms.
- Acute otitis media is the most common ear infection. Parts of the middle ear are infected and swollen and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum. This causes pain in the earcommonly called an earache. Your child might also have a fever.
- Otitis media with effusion sometimes happens after an ear infection has run its course and fluid stays trapped behind the eardrum. A child with OME may have no symptoms, but a doctor will be able to see the fluid behind the eardrum with a special instrument.
- Chronic otitis media with effusion happens when fluid remains in the middle ear for a long time or returns over and over again, even though there is no infection. COME makes it harder for children to fight new infections and also can affect their hearing.
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Skip The Dairy And Juice
Wean a child away from dairy and juice as these create a higher risk of ear infections. Dairy and juice can cause more mucus to develop in the upper respiratory system. The sugar that is present in these drinks may affect a childs immune function. This can cause congestion in the ears and chest which can lead to ear problems.
What Is Ear Infection In Toddlers
To understand ear infections, one needs to understand the human ears anatomy. There are three sections in the human ear outer, middle, and inner ear. While the external ear and inner ear are isolated, the middle ear is connected to the nasal cavity through a tube called the eustachian tube. The function of the tube is to equalize air pressure and drain the middle ear fluids into the nasal cavity. The tube stays closed for the most part but opens during some functions such as swallowing or sneezing. In infants and toddlers, the eustachian tube is shorter and more straight than curved. Hence, bacteria easily pass from the oral cavity into the middle ear cavity.
The connection with the sinonasal cavity exposes the middle ear to several bacteria and viruses that cause upper respiratory infections. A microscopic pathogen can squeeze and find its way through the closed eustachian tube into the middle ear. Here it infects the mucosal secretions of the middle ear causing an infection called otitis media .
There are three types of middle ear infection:
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Can An Ear Infection Be Prevented Or Avoided
Although an ear infection is not contagious, the bacteria or virus that caused it is often contagious. Its important to:
- Vaccinate your child with a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against several types of pneumococcal bacteria. This type of bacteria is the most common cause of ear infections. Get your childs vaccinations on time.
- Practice routine hand washing and avoid sharing food and drinks, especially if your child is exposed to large groups of kids in day care or school settings.
- Avoid second-hand smoke.
- Breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding for at least 1 year. Place your baby at an angle while feeding.
Common allergy and cold medicines do not protect against ear infections.