Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How To Know If Baby Has Ear Infection Or Teething

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Fact: Most Ear Infections Hurt

How to tell if your baby is teething or has an ear infection

The pain builds as the pressure in the ear builds, from a dull ache to a sharp stabbing pain. The pressure is relieved intermittently, so the pain comes in waves. The pain is worse at night. In an older child, My ear hurts! is the most reliable clue. Most ear infections, however, occur in children under age two. In younger children the best clue is evidence of pain, such as crying or screaming , fussiness or irritability , or suddenly increased difficulty sleeping, especially at night. They often have no pain the following morning.

Whenshould I Take My Baby To The Doctor For An Ear Infection

One of the most common questions that new parents ask when theyare expecting is when should I take my baby to the doctor for an ear infection?

If you are tired and struggling to make ends meet, its easy toget into that situation, but do you really need to rush out and call yourdoctor before your baby even has a cold?

We all have infections. Some of us have very mild infectionswhile others have worse problems. In some cases, a baby can have an earinfection that can be very severe.

The problem with many parents is that they wait too long to bring their baby to the doctor for a problem, and then once they start to notice that they are having a problem, they take their baby to the doctor anyway.

The reason they do this is because they dont want to cause any problems to their child or themselves.

It is important to understand that any infection in the babys ears is not something that you should rush to the doctor for.

In fact, it is one of the most dangerous things that you can do to your child. In order to prevent an infection, you need to know what to do.

When should you call your doctor for a problem in your babysears? This is a question that many parents just arent sure of.

If your baby has a serious ear infection, then you should callyour doctor right away. There are a number of symptoms that may indicate thatyour baby is suffering from an ear infection.

Any of these symptoms can signal that your baby may have an ear infection and you should act now.

How Is An Acute Middle Ear Infection Treated

Many doctors will prescribe an antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, to be taken over seven to 10 days. Your doctor also may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or eardrops, to help with fever and pain.

If your doctor isnt able to make a definite diagnosis of OM and your child doesnt have severe ear pain or a fever, your doctor might ask you to wait a day or two to see if the earache goes away. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines in 2013 that encourage doctors to observe and closely follow these children with ear infections that cant be definitively diagnosed, especially those between the ages of 6 months to 2 years. If theres no improvement within 48 to 72 hours from when symptoms began, the guidelines recommend doctors start antibiotic therapy. Sometimes ear pain isnt caused by infection, and some ear infections may get better without antibiotics. Using antibiotics cautiously and with good reason helps prevent the development of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics.

If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, its important to make sure your child takes it exactly as prescribed and for the full amount of time. Even though your child may seem better in a few days, the infection still hasnt completely cleared from the ear. Stopping the medicine too soon could allow the infection to come back. Its also important to return for your childs follow-up visit, so that the doctor can check if the infection is gone.

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What Is An Ear Infection Exactly

When people talk about a baby ear infection, they are usually referring to a middle ear infection. You may also encounter the medical term otitis media in connection with this.

An untreated middle ear infection can lead to problems involving the inner ear, especially if it spreads. Even if the infection does not spread, the inner ear can lose some of its effectiveness. So infections of the inner ear can also occasionally happen, but they are not as common.


Middle ear infections, meanwhile, are very normal. About three out of four children will get them at some point, and although they can be a hassle, they are rarely something to worry about purely by themselves.

Still, you will want to understand what is going on, both for your own peace of mind, and in order to diagnose your child properly.

Typically, an infection of the middle ear happens when the eustachian tube becomes blocked. The eustachian tube is what connects the nose, throat, and ear. It regulates pressure so that each of these organs can function properly, and it helps us maintain balance.

Unfortunately, the tube does occasionally become blocked. When this happens, bacterial or viral infection can become trapped. Usually, the body would fight the infection and clear it out before it was noticeable.

But because of the blockage, the body cannot fight or drain the infection as quickly as it normally might. This then leads to a buildup of fluid.

Baby Ear Infection Treatment

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Ear infection in babies typically resolves on its own within a few days, so the strategy should be to keep baby comfortable in the meantime. The common baby ear infection treatment plan, Burgert says, is pain relievers, patience and hugs. While its a common condition thats rarely dangerous, an infection still calls for an evaluation by a doctor, to avoid any potential complications. Talk to your pediatrician about which over-the-counter pain meds, like Tylenol or Motrin, would be best to usebut steer clear of homeopathic ear drops, which arent effective, Burgert says.

Even after the symptoms have disappeared, stop by the doctors office to make sure the ear infection has fully cleared up. You want to make sure that theres no fluid hanging around or scarring in the ear, says Katherine OConnor, MD, a pediatric hospitalist at the Childrens Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.

For a more severe baby ear infection, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:

Inserting tubes in the ears. For recurring ear infections, some doctors will recommend surgery to insert tubes into babys ears. These small tubes are placed through the eardrum to help equalize the pressure, Brown explains. This helps to allow fluid to drain and to prevent ear infections from developing in the first place. This also enables your doctor to place antibiotics into the ear canal and treat the infection at its source, Brown explains.

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Symptoms Of Ear Infections

A middle ear infection can happen to any child and is caused by bacteria or viruses getting into the space behind your baby’s eardrum. This causes their ear to fill with puss, which presses on the eardrum and means your baby will most likely be in a lot of pain. Often the ear infection will be caused by a cold or throat infection, or an increase in allergies in your child.

Earaches and pains can often develop into ear infections in your child when fluid becomes trapped because of the pain. Trouble hearing and fluid from their ears usually point to an ear infection and not just an earache, but it is best to get it checked out. Most of the symptoms of earache and infection are the same, so it is useful for a doctor to identify which one your child is dealing with.

There are some symptoms of ear infections that are not the same as the signs your child is teething. Here are a few ways you can try to identify what is wrong with children when they behave out of the ordinary and seem distressed.

In children, a low fever of 101102 F could be a symptom of an inner ear infection, but this isn’t always present.

Older babies might use their words to complain about sore ears or struggling with their hearing, which will point you in the direction of what is wrong.

Still Not Sure Head To The Doc

The only way to be sure that your child has an ear infection is to visit your pediatrician. Take a baby younger than age 2 to the doctor if a cold and apparent discomfort don’t go away in two or three days, or if a fever doesn’t go away in one or two days.

When your physician peeks in your child’s ear to check for signs of an infection, she’s looking at the eardrum to see if it is red, thick, or bulging.

American Baby

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How Can I Tell If Its An Ear Infection Or Just Teething

Are you tired of taking your fussy baby to the doctor to check her ears, only to be told its probably just teething? To help you decide, with teething:

  • The pain usually starts at 4 months old and will come and go until the 2-year molars are in
  • Tugging or digging at the ears with no cold symptoms or fever
  • Fussiness or night waking with no cold symptoms or fever
  • May have low fever less than 101º
  • Teething does not cause a runny nose, only drool

A Burst Ear Drum Sounds Scary But Don’t Panic

How do I know if my baby’s pain is from teething or his ear infection & should see the doctor again?

Also called a ruptured or perforated eardrum, a burst eardrum means that the tympanic membrane separating the middle ear from the outer ear has a hole in it caused by pressure from fluid buildup. This can be caused by an ear infection, and not surprisingly, it can hurt a lot and temporarily interfere with hearing.

However, the hole usually closes pretty quickly on its own, says James Coticchia, M.D., a pediatric ENT with The Studer Family Childrens Hospital at Sacred Heart, in Pensacola, Florida. Sometimes a special type of prescription eardrop is needed or, in rare cases, surgery.

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How To Prevent Ear Infections In Babies And Toddlers

There are a few ways you can get ahead of your childâs chance of getting ear infections:

  • Breastfeeding your baby. Since breast milk contains antibodies, itâs been known to promote a lower rate of ear infections in breastfed babies compared to formula-fed babies

  • Always bottle-feeding your baby in an upright position. Feed your baby so their head is above the level of the stomach to prevent the Eustachian tubes from getting blocked by the fluid

  • Not smoking around your child

  • Ensuring your child has received their latest vaccinations

  • Practicing good hygiene, like frequent handwashing

  • Providing your child nutritious meals.

Can You Do At

The short answer is yes, for the first couple of days. Obviously, if the child is in terrible pain, or if she is running a high fever, you should call a doctor. But most infections will subside, so the main objective of treatment is simply to help the child feel better and lessen pain and discomfort.

But if an infection doesnt show any signs of improvement within 48 hours, you will want to seek medical advice.

In the meantime, here are a few ways you can help your baby get through the next couple of days:

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Teething Vs Ear Infection

With five kids, I know what its like to worry about whether a cranky baby is just teething or if its something to be concerned about. Nobody wants to take unnecessary trips to the doctor, especially with a cranky baby in tow, but you dont want to risk your childs health either.

To help you make the right decision, well provide a quick rundown of the signs of teething vs. sickness, explain what you can do in each case, and give you the answers to the question we hear most often.

What Can You Do To Treat Ear Infections

How To Know If My Baby Has An Ear Infection

A good starting point is pain medication for the fever, rest, hydration, and temperature controls. You should never try and clean the ear out because you risk further damage and problems. You can try and keep it dry by being extra careful in baths and avoiding other water sources. wait a couple of days for it to go away on its own. If not, seek help.

If you are concerned about your child showing signs of any of the issues here, seek medical advice. Your pediatrician will be able to advise you on what you need to do after giving your child a check-up. They can offer support for teething, suitable medication for ear infections, and the right pain relief. They may even be able to help with any sleep issues that arise as a result of these problems.


Lets go over some of those important questions again so you know what you are dealing with here.

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Treatments And Tips For Teething

Teething is a natural part of your little one growing up, and unfortunately, all infants experience pain and discomfort while they grow their new teeth. We’ve got some tips to help deal with teething fever and the other symptoms of teething, to help make the process as easy as possible for you and your child.

Earache and ear infections can be commonly mixed up with teething symptoms, but it is not common for teething to cause ear infections for babies. If your baby is suffering from earache that seems to be caused by teething, you might be able to move them onto the side that isn’t as painful, and relieve a little bit of the pain, but most likely the pain is being caused by their teeth and gums and just feels like ear pain.

Keep your child hydrated with lots of little sips of water, as they will be losing a lot of fluid and probably won’t want to drink as often because it may hurt. Little sips as often as you can will make sure they stay hydrated.

Make sure you have a cloth handy to dry your baby’s drool, as it could cause skin irritation which might add an extra level of pain for your baby.

Children’s Paracetamol might be a good option to help with pain, just make sure you read the bottle carefully to get the correct dosage.

If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at all the milestones or 16-month-old milestones you can expect to see in your toddler?

A Slight Increase In Temperature

Babies do not develop fevers when teething. Studies show there may be a slight rise in temperature the day before, the day of, and the day after the eruption of a new tooth. However, this doesnt rise to the level of a fever, which is a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above .

Fever Alert

If your baby spikes a fever over 100 F, dont assume its from teething. Its best to speak with your childs doctor or pediatrician to seek out any underlying illness causing an elevated temperature.

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Why Teething Symptoms May Be Confused With Cold Symptoms

Research has pointed out that teething begins around six months of age. This is the same time when an infants immunities they received from their mother, via the placenta, are diminishing. This means that the infants own immune system is becoming established. During this time, infants become vulnerable to minor infections. Because these two changes are taking place, the symptoms of teething can be confused with a minor illness or cold and visa versa. This explains why only 70-80 percent of parents reported teething symptoms of their infant its very likely that parents of the remaining 20-30 percent associated the symptoms to a minor illness or cold.

How Do I Tell The Difference Between Teething And Ear Infection

Infant Medical Care : Infant Ear Infection Treatment

The best way to tell the difference between teething and ear infection is to have a medical practitioner examine the baby or toddlers ears. There are some other signs suggestive of one or the other condition, but sometimes babies can have both. An infection indicates the presence of bacteria, and without treatment this could cause damage. It always makes sense to see a doctor, if in doubt. Still, parents can look for other signs that differentiate between teething and ear infection such as drooling, response to pressure on the gums, type of nasal mucus, worsening illness, and greater discomfort in a prone position.

One of the difficulties with trying to tell teething and an ear infection apart is that both conditions may be accompanied by a slight fever. Usually, fever with teething doesnt exceed 100 degrees F , but sometimes an ear infection presents without fever or a low grade fever. Alone, this symptom is unreliable in telling the difference between the two.

Teething and ear infection can share in common the following symptoms:

  • Pulling on the ears
  • Positive response to pain medicine
  • Mouth pain
  • Diarrhea

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What Can Parents Do

Watch for signs of an ear infection and get your child to a doctor if symptoms dont go away or get worse. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent ear infections:

  • Breastfeed for 6 to 12 months if you can to boost your childs immune system
  • Limit your childs exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Wash your hands often to prevent the spread of infection
  • Keep your child up-to-date on all immunizations

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