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.
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.
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.
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Treatments And Tips For Ear Infections
To help your little one feel better and recover quickly from ear infections there are a few things you can do. Whether they are teething or not, these are the best ways to soothe an earache.
Make sure that your child gets lots of rest and sleep, it will be easier for them to fight an infection when they aren’t overtired, and keep giving fluid regularly to your child if they are suffering from an ear infection. This should help improve itchy ears and eardrum pain in the middle ear.
If your baby is over three months of age, you might be able to use baby Paracetamol or Ibuprofen Suspension to help ease the pain and reduce fever in your little one. Make sure to check the packet carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist how much to give your child.
In some cases, a doctor might prescribe antibiotics for ear infection treatment. Antibiotics will help children heal fluid in the ear caused by the bacteria, and reduce their fever, but it is important to speak to a doctor to know what they recommend. Often with viral ear infections, the antibiotics won’t actually help your child feel less ear pain, so the doctor might not recommend them for all children.
Ear Infections Can Still Happen With Ear Tubes
Unfortunately, the nail-biting experience of putting your young child through surgery doesn’t come with guarantees. Many children will still get an occasional ear infection, especially when they have a cold. However, your child should definitely get fewer infections, and they’ll usually cause less fever and pain.
“In fact, painless drainage from the ear is the most common sign of an infection in a child who has tubes,” says Dr. Young. However, you may not have to fight with your kid to swallow spoonfuls of antibiotics: Children with tubes in place are able to use antibiotic ear drops instead because the opening in their eardrum allows the medicine to get right into the middle ear.
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When To Visit The Doctor
If you think your child has an ear infection either middle ear or outer ear call PlunketLine or take them to a doctor.
Antibiotics arent usually needed to treat an ear infection, since the infections are usually viral . Your doctor may wait to see whether the infection will clear up by itself. However, if your child is unwell and feverish, your doctor may recommend antibiotics.
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.
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When Should I Take My Baby To The Doctor For An Ear Infection
- Fever. While some pediatricians have different standards for what constitutes a fever, if you suspect an ear infection and your child is running any kind of fever, dont worry about bothering your pediatrician with a call to the office. Definitely call the doctor immediately if your infant is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher or if your child is between 3 months and 3 years old and the fever reaches 101.5 degrees F or higher .
- A discharge of blood, fluid or pus from the ear . This could mean that the pressure from the buildup of fluid in the ear has caused your childs eardrum to rupture which is not as scary as you might think. The release of pressure usually relieves some pain, and the eardrum usually heals itself within a few weeks. Still, youll want to see the pediatrician within a day or so since your child may need antibiotics to kill any bacteria that may have caused the ear infection.
- No improvement in your childs symptoms. Call if symptoms haven’t diminished after three days with or without antibiotics. Or get in touch if the infection seems to get better and then returns, which could mean that your child has a chronic ear infection.
How Do You Treat Your Babys Ear Infection
Treatment for your babys ear infection will depend on their age and how severe the infection is. Your pediatrician may recommend over-the-counter pain medication as needed and keeping an eye on it. If your child has a fever or the ear infection is not improving, your pediatrician will most likely prescribe oral antibiotic liquid to clear up the infection.
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Know The Signs Of Ear Infections In Infants
Its incredibly important to recognize the signs of ear infections in infants. Although an ear infection is a common occurrence and nothing to worry about, its still something that needs to be treated as early as possible to avoid complications.
If you have any suspicions your child is suffering from an ear infection, dont waste any time. Get them to a doctor or a top-notch urgent care clinic right away.
What Else Do You Need To Make Your Decision
Check the facts
- Sorry, thats not right. Most ear infections clear up on their own.
- Youre right. Most ear infections clear up on their own.
- It may help to go back and read Get the Facts. Most ear infections clear up on their own.
- Sorry, thats not right. Antibiotics do not relieve ear pain immediately. Your child may need to take an over-the-counter medicine for pain.
- Thats right. Antibiotics do not relieve ear pain immediately. Your child may need to take an over-the-counter medicine for pain.
- It may help to go back and read Get the Facts. Antibiotics do not relieve ear pain immediately. Your child may need to take an over-the-counter medicine for pain.
- Thats right. Antibiotics can have bothersome side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and an allergic reaction.
- No, thats not right. Antibiotics can have bothersome side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and an allergic reaction.
- It may help to go back and read Compare Your Options. Antibiotics can have bothersome side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and an allergic reaction.
1.How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
3.Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
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Ear Infection Vs Teething: How To Tell The Difference
Sometimes telling the difference between signs of teething vs ear infection symptoms in babies can be complicated.
Signs and symptoms of ear infection vs teething can often overlap, and it can be confusing trying to work out whether ear pulling or a low-grade fever are caused by one or the other. We’ve put together a guide to the symptoms to help you understand what’s going on, and some helpful treatment tips that should help your child feel better in no time.
For more, take a look at our guide to a 9-month-old baby not crawling or check out some ideas on how to navigate too.
Main Symptoms Of Ear Infections In Children
Your child may have 2 or more of these symptoms:
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How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Babys Ear Infection And Teething
It is tough for any parent to tell the difference between teething and an ear infection. Both conditions cause your baby to be upset, have trouble eating, and tug at their ears.
Its helpful to remember that most babies develop an ear infection after a cold or another upper respiratory infection. Ear infections usually cause more pain when your child lies down as well. Teething can happen at any time and is often accompanied by drooling.
If youre not sure what is causing your babys discomfort, call your pediatrician.
Can I Do Anything To Prevent Ear Infections In My Child
It is not easy to prevent ear infections, but the following may help reduce the risk:
- making sure your child’s environment is smoke-free.
- breastfeeding your baby for at least 3 to 6 months is thought to be protective against the early development of ear infections – this may be because breastfeeding boosts the infection-fighting system
- keeping your child’s room warm and dry
- making sure your child has all their immunisations on time
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When Should You Call A Healthcare Provider
If your child develops signs of an ear infection, such as tugging on the ear and crying while lying down, call your healthcare provider. Your pediatrician will most likely want to examine your childs ears and may prescribe an antibiotic right away. Seek emergency treatment if your childs temperature goes above 104 F or if they develop neck stiffness, muscle weakness, or bleeding.
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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Helping Your Child At Home
- Keep your child home while they are unwell or have a fever.
- Pain relief is important – your doctor or pharmacist can advise you on the right dose of pain relief medicine for your child.
- Let your child rest and give them lots of cuddles.
- Talk to your doctor about a follow-up check, to make sure your childs ear fluid has cleared.
Accurate and reliable information about children’s health.
How Do Ear Infections In Children Occur
Heres an anatomy lesson
The ear is divided into three parts: the outer ear canal, the middle ear space where infections occur, and the inner ear where the nerves and balance center are. A thin, membranous eardrum divides the outer and middle ear. The middle ear space contains the small bones that conduct the vibrations of the eardrum to the brain and is also connected to the back of the nose via the Eustachian tube.
Immature Eustachian tube
In infants and young children, this tube is much shorter and is angled. It is therefore much easier for bacteria to migrate from the nose and throat up into the middle ear space. As the child grows, this tube becomes more vertical, so germs have to travel upward to reach the middle ear. This is one-reason children outgrow ear infections.
When your child has a cold, the nasal passages get swollen and mucus collects in the back of the nose. This environment is a breeding ground for the bacteria that normally live in the nose and throat to begin to overgrow. Mucus is also secreted within the middle ear space just as it is in the sinuses.
Germs migrate up through the Eustachian tube and into the middle ear space where they multiply within the mucus that is stuck there. Pus begins to form and soon the middle ear space is filled with bacteria, pus, and thick mucus.
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Medical Prevention For Chronic Or Frequent Ear Infections
If your child is having frequent ear infections, more aggressive prevention may be indicated. There are different opinions as to the definition of chronic ear infections. How many is too many?
- More aggressive doctors may choose to begin medical prevention if your child has more than three ear infections in six months or more than four in one year.
- Less aggressive doctors may allow your child to have more infections before recommending medical prevention We lean more in this direction.
- Other factors such as hearing loss and speech delay may warrant more aggressive treatment.
There are three forms of medical prevention: