Main Symptoms Of Ear Infections In Children
Your child may have 2 or more of these symptoms:
Home Remedies For Your Babys Ear Infection
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What is an ear infection?
If your baby is fussy, cries more than usual, and tugs at their ear, they may have an ear infection. Five out of six children will have an ear infection before their 3rd birthday, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders .
An ear infection, or otitis media, is a painful inflammation of the middle ear. Most middle ear infections occur between the ear drum and the eustachian tube, which connects the ears, nose, and throat.
Ear infections often follow a cold. Bacteria or viruses are usually the cause. The infection causes inflammation and swelling of the eustachian tube. The tube narrows and fluid builds behind the eardrum, causing pressure and pain. Children have shorter and narrower eustachian tubes than adults. Also, their tubes are more horizontal, so its easier for them to get blocked.
Approximately 5 to 10 percent of children with an ear infection will experience a ruptured eardrum, according to the Childrens National Health System. The eardrum usually heals within one to two weeks, and rarely causes permanent damage to the childs hearing.
Check If It’s An Ear Infection
The symptoms of an ear infection usually start quickly and include:
- discharge running out of the ear
- a feeling of pressure or fullness inside the ear
- itching and irritation in and around the ear
- scaly skin in and around the ear
Young children and babies with an ear infection may also:
- rub or pull their ear
- not react to some sounds
- be irritable or restless
- be off their food
- keep losing their balance
Most ear infections clear up within 3 days, although sometimes symptoms can last up to a week.
|Inner ear infection||Middle ear infection||Outer ear infection|
|Can affect both children and adults||Usually affects children||Usually affects adults aged 45 to 75|
|Caused by viral or bacterial infections||Caused by viruses like colds and flu||Caused by something irritating the ear canal, such as eczema, water or wearing earplugs|
|Affects parts of the inner ear like the labyrinth and vestibular system, and can lead to labyrinthitis||Affects the eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the nose||Affects the ear canal|
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What Are The Signs Of Ear Infection In Toddler
The most obvious sign is pain. Children may tell you their ears hurt, and those who cannot talk yet may tug at their ear or seem excessively cranky. Not all children will have a fever when an ear infection occurs. Many children develop ear infections shortly after experiencing a sinus infection or cold.
Additional signs of ear infection in toddler include:
- Trouble sleeping, as lying down will make the infection more painful.
- Reduced appetite because it is uncomfortable to swallow or chew.
- Vomiting or diarrhea if the infection is also affecting the gastrointestinal tract.
- Unpleasant smell coming from the ear.
- Trouble hearing quiet sounds as fluid blocks the ear canal.
- Yellow or white fluid draining from the ear. This is a less common symptom which may indicate that your child has a hole in their eardrum .
- Difficulty balancing, as the ear helps manage equilibrium.
Want to know more about signs of ear infection in toddlers? Check out the video below:
How Does It Cause Disease
As long as air entering from the back of the nose is able to reach the middle ear space via the eustachian tube, the middle ear rarely becomes infected. The eustachian tube in younger children is flimsy and easily collapses. As the child grows, the cartilage tissue surrounding the eustachian tube becomes stiffer, longer, and more angulated inside the skull.
Pneumococcus, Haemophilus, and Moraxella commonly reside in the back of the nose, and do not infect the child. Once a child becomes infected with a respiratory virus, it not only causes congestion of the nose and the lungs, but also of the eustachian tube. When this tube becomes clogged, the cells in the middle ear space produce a fluid-like substance, which allows bacteria to grow and infect the middle ear space. A virus infection precedes up to 90% of cases of acute otitis media.
Respiratory virus infections also trigger ear infections by upsetting the body’s normal defenses in the nose and the eustachian tube, and allowing certain normal bacteria that reside in the nose to “stick” better to the lining of the nose and the eustachian tube. Certain viruses, such as the flu and RSV , are more frequently associated with ear infections. Occasionally, the child’s nose becomes colonized by a new aggressive strain of bacteria, which rapidly invades the middle ear. Unfortunately, more exposures to viruses and new strains of bacteria increase the likelihood of ear infections.
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What You Can Do To Soothe A Cold Or Ear Infection:
- Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and head pressure.
- Try a cool-mist humidifier or shower steam to loosen congestion.
- Try over-the-counter saline drops to clear the nose.
- Consider sinus rinses or devices to remove mucus from young childrens noses.
- For children older than age 1, honey in warm water can soothe a cough.
- For older children, an extra pillow under their head can help them sleep better.
How Do Ear Infections Happen
A middle ear infection usually happens because of swelling in one or both of the eustachian tubes . The tubes let mucus drain from the middle ear into the throat.
A cold, throat infection, acid reflux, or allergies can make the eustachian tubes swell. This blocks the mucus from draining. Then, or grow in the mucus and make pus, which builds up in the middle ear.
When doctors refer to an ear infection, they usually mean otitis media rather than swimmer’s ear . Otitis media with effusion is when noninfected fluid builds up in the ear. It might not cause symptoms, but in some kids, the fluid creates a sensation of ear fullness or “popping.”
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What Happens When Your Childs Doctor Fails To Diagnose An Ear Infection In New Jersey
Nearly 90% of children under three suffer from at least one ear infection, causing flooded doctors offices each year. The fundamental problem occurs when a childs ear infection goes undiagnosed, opening the door for significant complications that may spell permanent repercussions for the rest of their life. When physicians and other medical professionals fail to diagnose or misdiagnose pediatric ear infections, leading to hearing loss or other long-term consequences, parents are right to question these healthcare providers competence and wonder if they had seen another doctor, if their vulnerable child would have suffered the same fate. In these situations, it is highly advisable to seek legal guidance from an experienced pediatric malpractice attorney who can further investigate the claim and hold negligent providers or facilities accountable.
Our childhood malpractice lawyers are highly equipped in the realm of pediatric malpractice litigation, as we have dedicated our lives to injured infants and children who suffer harm due to medical errors across the state of New Jersey. A member of our staff is available immediately to assist you, so please contact us today at 866-708-8617 for a free consultation. Read on to learn more about ear infections in children and what can happen when a medical professional misses an ear infection in your child.
Can Swimming Cause Ear Infections In Toddlers
Yes. However, the infection is not of the middle ear, but of the skin of the outer ear canal. The infection does not reach the middle ear and stays restricted to the external ear. For this reason, the condition is called otitis externa or swimmers ear . Otitis externa usually occurs when excessive water enters the ears as the toddler spends too much time in the pool. The wet conditions eventually cause bacterial and fungal invasion leading to an infection.
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Home Remedies For Toddler Ear Infections
Ear infections are common in children. Five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by the time they are three years old, and ear infections are the most common reason for childhood doctor’s visits.
Common signs of ear infections in children include:
- Ear pain
- Trouble hearing or responding to sounds
- Clumsiness/problems with balance
- Fluid draining from the ear
Because of concerns surrounding antibiotic resistance, many doctors are avoiding prescribing antibiotics for ear infections unless absolutely necessary.
Treatment is usually more focused on pain relief, which can be managed effectively at home in most cases.
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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Acupressure And Essential Oils Can Be Used For Treating Ear Infections In Toddlers:
Acupressure and essential oils can also be used for treating ear infections in toddlers naturally. Lavender essential oil reduces inflammation and when it is used along with acupressure, it can help to relieve ear infections. The acupressure points are located in front of and behind the ear and in the space between the thumb and index finger on the hand.
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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How Is An Ear Infection Treated
- If a child doesnt have too much discomfort or a high fever, the doctor will likely wait 24 to 48 hours to see if the ear infection gets better on its own. If the child does not improve or gets worse, you should take them back to the doctor.|
- You childs doctor will prescribe antibiotics if:
- your child is moderately to severely ill with a high fever ,
- your child has severe pain,
- the condition has not improved for 48 hours, or
- the ear canal has new fluid.
For an uncomplicated ear infection, children between 6 months and 2 years usually take an antibiotic for 10 days. Children over 2 years of age will take an antibiotic for 5 days.
The doctor might suggest acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce the childs pain. Only give ibuprofen if your child is drinking reasonably well. Do not give ibuprofen to babies under 6 months old without first talking to your doctor.
Do not give over-the-counter medications to babies and children under 6 years without first talking to your doctor. The only exceptions are medications used to treat fever, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Children usually feel better within 1 day of starting an antibiotic. Your doctor might want to see your child again to be sure the infection has cleared up completely. Fluid can remain in the middle ear without inflammation for a few weeks.
When Should I Return To My Healthcare Provider For A Follow
Your healthcare provider will let you know when you need to return for a follow-up visit. At that visit, you or your childs eardrum will be examined to be certain that the infection is going away. Your healthcare provider may also want to test you or your child’s hearing.
Follow-up exams are very important, especially if the infection has caused a hole in the eardrum.
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How Do Ear Infections Develop In Children
Ear infections result from middle ear inflammation and pooled fluid behind the eardrum. They commonly follow colds, infections, or viruses. Infections cause inflamed eustachian tubes, the canals that drain fluid from the ear to the throat, thus blocking the ears drainage system and building pressure in the middle ear. The eustachian tubes connect a small pocket behind the eardrum to the middle ear. The fluid buildup is a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses that infect the area. Since children have smaller eustachian tubes, they are more likely to suffer frequent ear infections than adults.
What Causes Ear Infections In Toddlers
There are several reasons behind a toddlers ear infection. However, some reasons are far more common and widespread.
- Common cold is the leading cause for ear infection among toddlers . The cold virus can traverse through the eustachian tube along with the mucus and land in the middle ear, causing an infection.
- Allergies: A general allergy towards airborne irritants can cause inflammation of the sinonasal cavity. The inflammation traps mucus within the middle ear where the secretions can develop a bacterial infection .
- Accumulation of milk in eustachian tube: If a toddler drinks from a bottle while lying on the back, the milk/formula can drain into the middle ear from laryngopharynx. The milk or formula accumulates, with superadded bacterial infection and causes middle ear infection along with pain and inflammation .
Some toddlers are at a higher risk than others in developing a middle ear infection.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Ear Infection In Toddlers
A toddler with an ear infection will display the following signs of the condition .
- Fluid Discharge From Ear: A clear or yellowish discharge from the ear could indicate pus, which is a collection of white blood cells that attack a pathogen. This occurs when the ear drum bursts open and the pus from the middle ear comes out.
- Unpleasant smell from the ear: An unpleasant odor emanates from the ear canal even if the toddler is otherwise clean. The smell comes from the infected middle ear fluid if it drains out.
- Tugging of ears due to pain: The toddler would pull or pinch the ear due to severe earache and discomfort. The ear ache is quite severe.
- Fever: An ear infection can cause fever without any signs of other visible illnesses. It means the toddler would seem otherwise fine. The fever due to ear infection would be greater than 100.4°F .
- Loss of appetite: A swollen eustachian tube can make swallowing painful due to high pressure within the middle ear . Therefore, the toddler develops a loss of appetite and disinterest in food.
- Nausea and vomiting: Younger toddlers may also experience a constant feeling of nausea or vomiting quite likely due to the pressure within the eustachian tube.
- Poor response to sounds: Since the middle ear is obstructed by infected fluids, sound waves do not reach the inner ear efficiently. It means the toddler would have trouble listening and responding to sounds appropriately. The ears feel blocked and there is difficulty hearing.
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.
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