What Happens If My Child Keeps Getting Ear Infections
To keep a middle ear infection from coming back, it helps to limit some of the factors that might put your child at risk, such as not being around people who smoke and not going to bed with a bottle. In spite of these precautions, some children may continue to have middle ear infections, sometimes as many as five or six a year. Your doctor may want to wait for several months to see if things get better on their own but, if the infections keep coming back and antibiotics arent helping, many doctors will recommend a surgical procedure that places a small ventilation tube in the eardrum to improve air flow and prevent fluid backup in the middle ear. The most commonly used tubes stay in place for six to nine months and require follow-up visits until they fall out.
If placement of the tubes still doesnt prevent infections, a doctor may consider removing the adenoids to prevent infection from spreading to the eustachian tubes.
Why Do Children Get Many More Ear Infections Than Adults Will My Child Always Get Ear Infections
Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections for these reasons:
- The eustachian tubes in young children are shorter and more horizontal. This shape encourages fluid to gather behind the eardrum.
- The immune system of children, which in the bodys infection-fighting system, is still developing.
- The adenoids in children are relatively larger than they are in adults. The adenoids are the small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. As they swell to fight infection, they may block the normal ear drainage from the eustachian tube into the throat. This blockage of fluid can lead to a middle ear infection.
Most children stop getting ear infections by age 8.
Who Is At Higher Risk For Ear Infections
- Children less than 5 years old, because they have shorter eustachian tubes.
- Children who attend daycare, because they tend to have more colds.
- Children with allergies.
- Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke. Smoke causes inflammation of the eustachian tube, making ear infections more likely.
- Children who were not breastfed. Breast milk has antibodies that help fight infections.
- Babies who are being bottle fed, especially if they swallow milk while lying too flat. Milk can enter the eustachian tube and cause inflammation, which increases the risk of an ear infection. Children should be held upright while drinking a bottle. When they are old enough to hold their own bottle well, they should be taught to drink from a regular cup and no longer given a bottle.
- Children with cleft palates, as their eustachian tubes are often inflamed.
- Children of First Nations and Inuit descent, though its not clear why.
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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.
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.
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Symptoms And Onset Of Viral Neuritis Or Labyrinthitis
Symptoms of viral neuritis can be mild or severe, ranging from subtle dizziness to a violent spinning sensation . They can also include nausea, vomiting, unsteadiness and imbalance, difficulty with vision, and impaired concentration.
Sometimes the symptoms can be so severe that they affect the ability to stand up or walk. Viral labyrinthitis may produce the same symptoms, along with tinnitus and/or hearing loss.
Onset of symptoms is usually very sudden, with severe dizziness developing abruptly during routine daily activities. In other cases, the symptoms are present upon awakening in the morning. The sudden onset of such symptoms can be very frightening many people go to the emergency room or visit their physician on the same day.
After a period of gradual recovery that may last several weeks, some people are completely free of symptoms. Others have chronic dizziness if the virus has damaged the vestibular nerve.
Many people with chronic neuritis or labyrinthitis have difficulty describing their symptoms, and often become frustrated because although they may look healthy, they dont feel well. Without necessarily understanding the reason, they may observe that everyday activities are fatiguing or uncomfortable, such as walking around in a store, using a computer, being in a crowd, standing in the shower with their eyes closed, or turning their head to converse with another person at the dinner table.
What Should I Expect If I Or My Child Has An Ear Infection
Ear infections are common in children. Adults can get them too. Most ear infections are not serious. Your healthcare provider will recommend over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever. Pain relief may begin as soon as a few hours after taking the drug.
Your healthcare provider may wait a few days before prescribing an antibiotic. Many infections go away on their own without the need for antibiotics. If you or your child receives an antibiotic, you should start to see improvement within two to three days.
If you or your child has ongoing or frequent infections, or if fluid remains in the middle ear and puts hearing at risk, ear tubes may be surgically implanted in the eardrum to keep fluid draining from the eustachian tube as it normally should.
Never hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions.
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How To Help Prevent Ear Infections
While most children get ear infections, there are a few things parents can do to try to prevent them:
- Breast feeding infants until at least age 6 months may help to lessen the number of ear infections.
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke. Do not smoke or allow smoking in your home or car.
- Always hold your baby with his head up during feeding time . Babies should not be fed by propping the bottle or while lying flat.The formula can get into the middle ear and cause an infection.
- Do notleave a bottle in the crib for the baby to drink at bedtime.
- Make sure your childs immunizations are up to date.
- If your child is diagnosed with acute otitis media, avoid giving him a pacifier.Dress your child properly in cold and rainy weather.
Home Remedies For Ear Infections
Ear infections are caused by bacteria or viruses in the middle ear. Ear infections occur more often in children than adults. Some causes and contributing factors that lead to ear infections are wax buildup, upper respiratory infections, food allergies, environmental allergies, fetal alcohol syndrome, genetics, nutritional deficiencies and internal injuries. Some common signs that someone is suffering from an ear infection are pain in the ear, tugging at the ear, difficulty sleeping, headache, poor response to sounds, high fever, fluid draining from the ear, vomiting, diarrhea and so on.
The ear is made up of three parts: outer, middle and inner.
An ear infection can occur in any of the three parts. Inner ear infections are the most serious. It is important to treat an ear infection to prevent complications, including damaging or rupturing the ear drum. Untreated ear infections can also lead to chronic recurrence and can even cause deafness! It is important to consult a doctor, but for immediate relief you can try some natural treatments. There are many time-honored, simple and easy home remedies that can help to get rid of the pain and other symptoms of an ear infection.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for an ear infection.
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What Are The Symptoms
The main symptom is an earache. It can be mild, or it can hurt a lot. Babies and young children may be fussy. They may pull at their ears and cry. They may have trouble sleeping. They may also have a fever.
You may see thick, yellow fluid coming from their ears. This happens when the infection has caused the eardrum to burst and the fluid flows out. This isn’t serious and usually makes the pain go away. The eardrum usually heals on its own.
When fluid builds up but doesn’t get infected, children often say that their ears just feel plugged. They may have trouble hearing, but their hearing usually returns to normal after the fluid is gone. It may take weeks for the fluid to drain away.
Can Ear Infections Affect Hearing
Fluid buildup in the middle ear also blocks sound, which can lead to temporary hearing problems. Kids having a problem might:
- not respond to soft sounds
- need to turn up the TV or radio
- talk louder
- seem inattentive at school
In kids who have otitis media with effusion, the fluid behind the eardrum can block sound, so mild temporary hearing loss can happen, but might not be obvious.
A child whose eardrum has ruptured might have ringing or buzzing in the ear and not hear as well as usual.
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Blockage Due To Foreign Object
You can do the following things at home as first aid for a foreign object in the ear:
- if the object is visible, carefully use tweezers to gently remove it
- tilt your head to the side to use gravity to remove the object
- try to wash the object out using a small syringe with warm water to gently irrigate the ear canal
Childhood Ear Infections Explained
Ear infections happen when there is inflammation usually from trapped bacteriain the middle ear, the part of the ear connects to the back of the nose and throat. The most common type of ear infection is otitis media, which results when fluid builds up behind the eardrum and parts of the middle ear become infected and swollen.
If your child has a sore throat, cold, or an upper respiratory infection, bacteria can spread to the middle ear through the eustachian tubes . In response to the infection, fluid builds up behind the eardrum.
Children are more likely to suffer from ear infections than adults for two reasons:
- Their immune systems are underdeveloped and less equipped to fight off infections.
- Their eustachian tubes are smaller and more horizontal, which makes it more difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear.
“In some cases, fluid remains trapped in the middle ear for a long time, or returns repeatedly, even when there’s no infection,” Tunkel explains.
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How To Take Oral Antibiotics
Itâs important to always take your antibiotics as prescribed. It may be tempting to combine the doses, but they will not be as effective and could lead to adverse side effects, such as stomach upset.
Even if you begin to feel better, you should continue to take the antibiotics until you finish your medication to prevent the infection from returning. You should avoid alcohol while taking antibiotics.
While antibiotics are good for clearing a bacterial infection, they can also rid the body of helpful “good” bacteria at the same time. Because of this, you may want to consider taking a probiotic supplement while you are on antibiotics.
Probiotics are living organisms that can help to prevent the imbalance of bacteria within your gut that often comes from taking antibiotics. Studies have shown that taking probiotics while taking antibiotics can lower the chances of side effects from a bacterial imbalance, such as gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea.
How Can I Prevent Ear Infections
The CDC offers several tips for reducing the risk factors that contribute to ear infections. These include:
- Staying up to date on childhood vaccines including the pneumococcal vaccine that helps protect against the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that can cause ear infections and the flu vaccine.
- Frequent handwashing by parents and caregivers
- Breastfeeding until at least 6 months passes on moms immunity to babies
- Avoid exposing your child to secondhand smoke
Babys first sick visit: its never fun, sometimes scary and often related to an ear infection. But dont worry if your pediatrician sends you home empty-handed at first. At Loudoun Pediatric Associates, well make sure your child gets what she needs in the case of an ear infection, whether its a round of antibiotics or a few days of rest and watchful waiting. Sometimes we need an antibiotic to give those germs the boot, but in other cases rest, fluids and lots of snuggles are the best prescription.
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What Other Treatment Options Are Available
Depending on your symptoms and how severe your ear pain is, your doctor may recommend a wait and see approach. Your bodys immune system can usually fight off middle ear infections on its own, and you may not need to take anything, the Mayo Clinic says. It also depends on the cause of your infection, Dr. Litt says. Viruses dont get better with antibiotics, she points out.
But, if you have a more severe ear infection or your pain has lasted longer than two to three days, your doctor may recommend that you are treated with antibiotics to get relief. Ear infections are typically treated by antibiotics based on the location, Dr. Kozin says. If the infection is located in the outer part of the earthe ear canaltopical antibiotics drops may be used. If the ear infection is behind the eardrum, oral antibiotics are generally used.
Adenoids And/or Tonsil Removal
Adenoid removal or adenoid and tonsil removal may help some children who have repeat ear infections or fluid behind the eardrum. Children younger than 4 dont usually have their adenoids taken out unless they have severe nasal blockage.
As a treatment for chronic ear infections, experts recommend removing adenoids and tonsils only after tubes and antibiotics have failed. Removing adenoids may improve air and fluid flow in nasal passages. This may reduce the chance of fluid collecting in the middle ear, which can lead to infection. When used along with other treatments, removing adenoids can help some children who have repeat ear infections. But taking out the tonsils with the adenoids isnt very helpful.footnote 4 Tonsils are removed if they are frequently infected. Experts dont recommend tonsil removal alone as a treatment for ear infections.footnote 5
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Ear Infections In Babies And Toddlers
Ear infections in babies and toddlers are extremely common. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, five out of six children will experience an ear infection before their third birthday.
“Many parents are concerned that an ear infection will affect their child’s hearing irreversiblyor that an ear infection will go undetected and untreated,” says David Tunkel, M.D., Johns Hopkins Medicine pediatric otolaryngologist . “The good news is that most ear infections go away on their own, and those that don’t are typically easy to treat.”
Why Do Your Ear And Throat Hurt
If youve ever experienced ear pain when you swallow, you know how uncomfortable it can be.
In severe cases, it can even interfere with things like eating, drinking and talking.
Ear, nose and throat infections can all cause your ears to hurt when swallowing, so its important to know the signs of each.
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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.
What Is An Ear Infection
There are different types of ear infections. Middle ear infection is an infection in the middle ear.
Another condition that affects the middle ear is called otitis media with effusion. It occurs when fluid builds up in the middle ear without being infected and without causing fever, ear pain, or pus build-up in the middle ear.
When the outer ear canal is infected, the condition is called swimmers ear, which is different from a middle ear infection. For more information, visit Swimmers Ear .
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