Crying Or Fussing More Frequently
It sounds a little obvious, but ear infections cause pain and discomfort. Therefore, your child is likely to cry more often than they would usually, or otherwise be more irritable or grumpy.
Of course, there can be myriad reasons for crying in a child, but particularly when combined with other symptoms, it can be a sign of an ear infection.
Prevention Of Ear Infections
There are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting an ear infection, although its important to note that you cant always prevent them.
- Make sure youre up to date with your vaccinations
- Dont try to clean your ears with your fingers or using cotton buds
- Make sure you dry your ears after a shower or going swimming
- Try to cover your ears when you go swimming
- Avoid exposure to smoky environments
Earache Remedies You Can Try
1. Hot or cold compress
The skinny: Grab an ice or heat pack and put it onthe affected ear to help with the pain.
Doctors advice: The temperature you use is up to you. Wrap it in a towel tomake sure its not too cold or too hot. You dont want to cause any burns.
2.Over-the-counter pain relievers
The skinny: Pain relievers work as advertised, helping take the edge off the pain.
Doctors advice:Both adults and kids can rest easier when they take acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the right dosage. These medications reduce pain and fever, making you feel more comfortable.
3. Sleep position
The skinny: How you sleep can affect ear pain. Rest with your head on two or more pillows, so the affected ear is higher than the rest of your body. Or if the left ear has an infection, sleep on your right side. Less pressure = less ear pain.
Doctors advice: It could be effective, though a few inches may not make a big difference in pressure measurement. But if it makes you feel better, go for it.
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Can Ear Tubes Help
If your child experiences frequent or chronic ear infections, your pediatrician may discuss ear tubes with you. Ear tubes are tiny tubes that are surgically placed into your childs eardrums to drain fluid and prevent blockages. Ear tubes can provide immediate relief for little ones who regularly experience painful ear infections. Talk with your pediatrician and a pediatric ear, nose, and throat doctor to see whether ear tubes are right for your child.
Two Home Remedies For Earaches That Are Best Left On The Shelf
1.OTC numbing drops
Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommendsavoiding numbing drops. The effect is very brief, and sometimes it does theopposite and stings the ear.
Be it garlic, tea tree or olive people swear by putting oil in the ear to help with ear infections. Whilegarlic does have antibacterial properties, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh urges caution. If youreusing it for a middle ear infection, it wont get to the source of the problem.And even if you do have a hole in your eardrum, there arent studies showingits safe to put garlic in there.
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Who Is Most Likely To Get An Ear Infection
Middle ear infection is the most common childhood illness . Ear infections occur most often in children who are between age 3 months and 3 years, and are common until age 8. Some 25% of all children will have repeated ear infections.
Adults can get ear infections too, but they dont happen nearly as often as they do in children.
Risk factors for ear infections include:
- Age: Infants and young children are at greater risk for ear infections.
- Family history: The tendency to get ear infections can run in the family.
- Colds: Having colds often increases the chances of getting an ear infection.
- Allergies: Allergies cause inflammation of the nasal passages and upper respiratory tract, which can enlarge the adenoids. Enlarged adenoids can block the eustachian tube, preventing ear fluids from draining. This leads to fluid buildup in the middle ear, causing pressure, pain and possible infection.
- Chronic illnesses: People with chronic illnesses are more likely to develop ear infections, especially patients with immune deficiency and chronic respiratory disease, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma.
- Ethnicity: Native Americans and Hispanic children have more ear infections than other ethnic groups.
What Is Middle Ear Infection
The ear is made up of three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts all work together so you can hear and process sounds. The outer and middle ear are separated by the eardrum a very thin piece of skin that vibrates when hit by sound waves.
This page deals with middle ear infection which is the infection / inflammation of the air-filled space behind the eardrum. This space can become blocked and filled with mucus , which can become infected, causing inflammation.
There are two types of middle ear infection. An acute infection starts suddenly and lasts for a short period of time, while a chronic ear infection is one that does not get better or keeps coming back. Chronic ear infection can result in long-term damage to the ear.
Sometimes fluid will remain in the middle ear after an ear infection, causing “glue ear“, a relatively common condition that is often undetected among New Zealand pre-schoolers. Glue ear can adversely affect hearing and may take several weeks to resolve. Children with a suspected ear infection, or who have difficulty hearing, should see a doctor. Children with evidence of damage to the inside of the ear, hearing loss, or language learning delay are likely to be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist .
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Treating Middle Ear Infections
You may be prescribed antibiotics. Some antibiotics may be taken orally. Others can be applied directly to the site of the infection with ear drops. Medications for pain, such as over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used to manage your symptoms.
Another helpful technique is called autoinsufflation. Its meant to help clear your eustachian tubes. You do this by squeezing your nose, closing your mouth, and very gently exhaling. This can send air through the eustachian tubes to help drain them.
How To Tell If Your Child Has An Ear Infection What Should I Do Next
None of these signs on their own guarantee that your child has an ear infection, but theyre all indicators that something might be wrong. Dont risk it get them checked over. Now you have a better idea of how to tell if your child has an ear infection, youll be able to act fast should your child display symptoms.
Feel free to contact us today if you have any questions, and be sure to check out the rest of our posts for health advice too.
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What Can I Do To Feel Better
At home, follow your doctor’s directions for using ear drops and take all doses of antibiotic medicine as prescribed. Keep taking these for all days of treatment, even if you are starting to feel better. If you stop too soon, the infection could come back.
You can try acetaminophen or ibuprofen for ear pain. If they don’t help, your doctor might prescribe a stronger pain reliever. You’ll use this only for a short time until the ear drops and antibiotics begin to work.
To protect your ear while it heals, your doctor will probably tell you to keep your head out of water for several days or weeks even while showering or shampooing! This can be tough, but your doctor can give you suggestions on how to do this, such as using a cotton ball as an earplug.
What Causes The Fluid
Anyone can get fluid trapped behind their eardrum, but it occurs more often in children because of their anatomy. Childrens ear pressure regulating tubes, formally called eustachian tubes, are shorter and flatter than those in adults. The result is that they tend not to function as well. Eustachian tube dysfunction is often associated with allergies, congestion from a cold, enlarged adenoid, cigarette smoke, and oral abnormalities like a cleft palate.
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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.
How Are Ear Infections Treated
Treating a middle ear infection usually involves two steps: Treating the pain, and then, if symptoms dont improve, prescribing antibiotic medication to fight the infection. Doctors sometimes wait to prescribe antibiotics because an otherwise healthy child may be able to fight the infection on their own, helping a child avoid side effects and other risks of antibiotics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends focusing on pain management for the first 1 to 2 days before prescribing antibiotics. Over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen are recommended for pain relief, and occasionally ear drops that contain pain medicine.
Doctors sometimes wait to prescribe antibiotics, because the infection may clear up on its own.
If a doctor prescribes antibiotics to treat a middle ear infection, it is usually amoxicillin. This oral antibiotic works to destroy the infection. Over time, inflammation will get better, and the Eustachian tubes can properly ventilate the middle ear.
Until the backed-up fluids have cleared, your child is prone to recurrent infections. It is important to take the entire course of prescribed antibioticseven though the symptoms may have subsided. Older children may report being able to hear better several days after they have resumed normal activities. This is a sign that the fluid build-up has resolved.
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Joy Victory Managing Editor Healthy Hearing
Joy Victory has extensive experience editing consumer health information. Her training in particular has focused on how to best communicate evidence-based medical guidelines and clinical trial results to the public. She strives to make health content accurate, accessible and engaging to the public.Read more about Joy.
Symptoms Of Ear Infections
- The main symptom is an earache.
- Younger children will cry, act fussy or have trouble sleeping because of pain.
- About 50% of children with an ear infection will have a fever.
- Complication: In 5% to 10% of children, the eardrum will develop a small tear. This is from the pressure in the middle ear. The ear then drains cloudy fluid or pus. This small hole most often heals over in 2 or 3 days.
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What Causes Ear Infections
Ear infections are the most common infections of the middle ear. They come with pain, a sensation that the ear is clogged up and can even affect our hearing.
They are usually caused by bacteria in the middle ear, but they can also be viral. More often this happens because of another illness that causes one of your Eustachian tubes to swell or become blocked.
This results in a build-up of fluid in the spaces of the middle ear. The pain is the result of this build-up of fluid and the accompanying inflammation increasing pressure on your eardrum.
When Should I Call The Doctor About An Ear Infection
- You or your child develops a stiff neck.
- Your child acts sluggish, looks or acts very sick, or does not stop crying despite all efforts.
- Your childs walk is not steady he or she is physically very weak.
- You or your childs ear pain is severe.
- You or your child has a fever over 104° F .
- Your child is showing signs of weakness in their face .
- You see bloody or pus-filled fluid draining from the ear.
- The fever remains or comes back more than 48 hours after starting an antibiotic.
- Ear pain is not better after three days of taking an antibiotic.
- Ear pain is severe.
- You have any questions or concerns.
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Ear Infection Symptoms Treatment
Middle ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection that may cause earache, temporary hearing loss, and fluid discharge. A middle ear infection that does not clear up on its own may require treatment with antibiotics.
Middle ear infections occur mainly in early childhood, although older children and adults also get these kinds of infection. The incidence of acute ear infection in New Zealand children was recently estimated at 27%. A complication associated with middle ear infections is the retention of fluid, causing “glue ear”. Children should always be taken to a doctor if they have earache.
How To Tell If You Have An Inner Ear Infection
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Can You Prevent Ear Infections
Because colds are very infectious and easily spread among children, it can be very hard to prevent your child from getting sick. However, there are risk factors you can control:
- Limit your childs exposure to secondhand smoke
- Make sure your childand youare vaccinated against the flu every year
- Follow good hygiene habits, like frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer
- Teach your child to cough into her elbow, not her hands
- Wear swim ear plugs when swimming
Signs Of A Chronic Ear Infection You Should Never Ignore
Ear infections are extremely common health problems. However, they can also lead to numerous health conditions, including brain abscess or meningitis.
Therefore, its really important to make sure you know the signs of a chronic ear infection. You should never simply ignore any of the symptoms of ear infection.
If they are left untreated, your condition could worsen. Check out our guide to the top signs to watch out for below.
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What Are Other Causes Of Ear Pain
Other causes of ear pain include:
- A sore throat.
- Teeth coming in in a baby.
- An infection of the lining of the ear canal. This is also called swimmers ear.
- Pressure build up in the middle ear caused by allergies and colds.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/16/2020.
How Is A Middle
Your health care provider will take a medical history and do a physicalexam. He or she will look at the outer ear and eardrum with an otoscope.The otoscope is a lighted tool that lets your provider see inside the ear.A pneumatic otoscope blows a puff of air into the ear to check how wellyour eardrum moves. If you eardrum doesnt move well, it may mean you havefluid behind it.
Your provider may also do a test called tympanometry. This test tells howwell the middle ear is working. It can find any changes in pressure in themiddle ear. Your provider may test your hearing with a tuning fork.
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Earache Due To Ear Infection
Doctors call an ear infection acute otitis media . Signs that you have an ear infection rather than an earache because of a cold are:
- The pain does not go away with your other cold symptoms.
- Your hearing is dulled. The hearing loss with an ear infection is typically mild its the equivalent of putting a good earplug in your ear, says Dr. Rosenfeld.
- You may develop a fever.
- The pain is more intense.
Many ear infections are caused by bacteria and can be treated with a course of antibiotics.
If you have an ear infection, you may also:
- Have difficulty sleeping
- Feel dizzy
When To Call The Doctor For An Ear Infection
Some symptoms of an inner ear infection can be the same as a stroke. If you have vomiting, headache, vision changes, fever, weakness in one side of your body, slurred speech or are unable to walk, seek medical care right away.
Infections involving high fever, discharge or bleeding from the ear canal, headache, vomiting, dizziness, loss of hearing, or severe pain should be seen by a doctor. A doctor should see most people with an inner ear infection.
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Look For Visible Symptoms
If your child is experiencing ear pain, these signals are especially helpful: With swimmer’s ear, the outer ear may appear red and swollen and have a rash-like appearance. You may see your child frequently scratch at his ear or complain of an itchy ear. Also watch for a foul-smelling drainagecoming from the ear bothering them. Symptoms to watch for with a middle ear infection include fever, pulling or tugging on the ear, decreased appetite, diarrhea or vomiting.