How Are Ear Infections Treated
Most ear infections clear up without treatment in a few days. Antibiotics generally dont help, so the main treatment is pain relief.
- give your child pain relief medicine in the doses recommended for their age
- use anaesthetic or antibiotic ear drops for an outer ear infection, if recommended by your doctor
You should not:
- clean the ear with cotton buds or cotton wool
- give ear drops unless recommended by a doctor or pharmacist
- let your child get water in their ears if their eardrum has burst, until it has mended
If your child has recurrent infections or glue ear for more than 3 months, your doctor might refer them to an ear, nose and throat specialist for treatment. Options include long courses of antibiotics and grommets to allow drainage. Your doctor will be able to explain more about these.
If there is a foreign body in your childs ear, it needs to be taken out. This can usually be done in a doctors surgery or at a hospital emergency department. Very occasionally, surgery is needed.
Do Ear Infections Go Away On Their Own
Oftentimes, ear infections go away on their own within 2 or 3 days. This is why pediatricians sometimes take a wait-and-see approach for, say, 48 to 72 hours particulaly for children aged 2 and older who have milder ear infections.
Not every childhood ear infection warrants antibiotics, since some are caused by viruses that wont respond to antibiotics, and giving your child too many antibiotics can put him at risk for becoming resistant to these potent drugs when theyre really needed.
If your baby is 6 months or younger and its determined to be acute otitis media, however, your doctor will probably prescribe a course of antibiotics. Pediatricians may also prescribe antibiotics for children aged 6 months to 2 years who are having more severe symptoms. Your doctor may also start your child on antibiotics if his symptoms haven’t gotten better within two to three days.
Even if your doctor has suggested a wait-and-see approach for past ear infections, that may not be what your child needs for this one. So if you suspect your child has an ear infection, call your pediatrician to get your child’s ears examined.
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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How To Use Otoscopes To Check Your Child For Ear Infections
Does your child suffer from ear infections often? You might be visiting your doctor often and spending time and money. But the good news is that you can conduct an at-home inspection to identify ear infections in your child. You can practice at home inspection, but make sure you avoid it if your childs ear has pus or blood is coming from the ear or if the skin near the ear hole is swollen.
If your childs condition is not severe then you can perform at home inspection using an otoscope. In this post, we will guide you on how to properly use an otoscope to examine your child for ear infections at home.
Are Ear Infections Contagious
No, an ear infection itself is not contagious. However, the cold or illness that led to it could be. So while your child cant catch an ear infection from a friend at day care, he can catch the cold or flu virus that results in an ear infection.
To help prevent this, teach your child proper hygiene, such as washing hands frequently and sneezing or coughing into the crook of his arm or a tissue that is immediately thrown away. Also make sure hes up-to-date on his vaccinations.
If your child already has an ear infection, he can go back to school or day care after his fever clears up and he’s no longer in pain.
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How Can You Tell If An Infant Has An Ear Infection
When a baby has an ear infection, they might tug at their ears, seem crankier than usual and have trouble sleeping through the night. In infants, having a fever is not usually a sign of an ear infection.
For babies, a middle-ear infection is often followed by a cold. So, if a baby is stuffed up with clear, watery drainage coming from their nose, and then a few days later they are cranky and the discharge is more yellow, green or snotty, they might have an ear infection.
How To Spot An Ear Infection In Your Baby
Itâs the middle of the evening, and your baby is awake crying. You cannot figure out whatâs wrong or what you should do. There are a variety of reasons your baby might be crying, and youâre uncertain how to pinpoint the actual cause. It might be a baby ear infection, yet how can you tell?
Ear Infection Symptoms and Ear Infection Signs
Toddlers and babies do not have the language to communicate with you verbally that their ear is in pain therefore, itâs useful to know and be on the lookout for typical ear infection signs and ear infection symptoms babies.
Tugging at his ear
Toddlers might tug at their ears for several reasons, and among those reasons might be an ear infection. An ear infection causes ear discomfort and pain, and in trying to relieve the pain, theyâll tug at their ear. Infants under age one may hit their ear because they have a hard time locating, as well as connecting the discomfort to their ear.
A hard time lying down or sleeping
As a baby who has an ear infection lies down, itâll cause a change in pressure inside the middle ear. That pressure change is painful and isnât comfortable, making sleeping or merely lying down flat more of a challenge for kids.
Crying more than normal
A hard time hearing
Loss of balance
A personâs center of balance is situated inside the inner ear. Fluid buildup and pressure from an ear infection might cause clumsiness, unsteadiness, or dizziness.
Reduced appetite, vomiting, diarrhea
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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.
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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Baby Ear Infection Treatment
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.
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.
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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.
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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When Should You Use An Otoscope
You can use an otoscope or practice otoscopy at home if you notice the following symptoms in your child:
- Pain in the ear
- Infection or irritation in the ear
- Loss of hearing
- Ringing sound in the ears
- Any ear-related infection or symptom
With the help of an otoscope, you can diagnose the ear and see if the infection is mild or severe. Moreover, you can check the working condition of the ear.
How Is An Ear Infection Diagnosed
Doctors diagnose ear infections by looking at the ear drum with a special light called an otoscope. They look for fluid in the middle ear, at the colour and position of the ear drum, and monitor the pressure in the middle ear. Common viral infections can make the ear drum look red, but antibiotics are not needed.
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Fluid Or Pus Draining From Your Child’s Ear:
While not very common, this is a definite sign of infection, so call the doctor right away. Yellow, white, or green drainage from the ear can signal a perforated eardrum, a condition that can develop if the fluid in the middle ear puts so much pressure on the eardrum that it bursts.
Although a burst eardrum may sound scary and can be very painful for your child, the hole is not serious and will usually heal by itself. And the good news is that your child may start to feel better as fluid drains and pressure decreases.
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.
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What You Can Do
Doctors arent as quick to prescribe antibiotics these days because ear infections often clear up on their own.
If your baby is older than 6 months, their doctor might choose to hold off for a couple of days to see if the symptoms pass. In the meantime, ask your pediatrician if it would help ease your childs discomfort if you:
- Give them over-the-counter infant pain relievers.
- Use saline drops or spray to lower swelling and stuffiness from a cold. If the blocked ear drain doesnt open up, your doctor may suggest putting in small ear tubes for a while.
- If your baby is prescribed antibiotics, finish all the medicine even if they get better. Otherwise, the infection can come back quickly.
What Research Is Being Done On Middle Ear Infections
Researchers sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders are exploring many areas to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of middle ear infections. For example, finding better ways to predict which children are at higher risk of developing an ear infection could lead to successful prevention tactics.
Another area that needs exploration is why some children have more ear infections than others. For example, Native American and Hispanic children have more infections than do children in other ethnic groups. What kinds of preventive measures could be taken to lower the risks?
Doctors also are beginning to learn more about what happens in the ears of children who have recurring ear infections. They have identified colonies of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, called biofilms, that are present in the middle ears of most children with chronic ear infections. Understanding how to attack and kill these biofilms would be one way to successfully treat chronic ear infections and avoid surgery.
Understanding the impact that ear infections have on a childs speech and language development is another important area of study. Creating more accurate methods to diagnose middle ear infections would help doctors prescribe more targeted treatments. Researchers also are evaluating drugs currently being used to treat ear infections, and developing new, more effective and easier ways to administer medicines.
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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.
Signs It’s An Ear Infection
Because infants and toddlers don’t yet have the language skills to let you know how they’re feeling, detecting an ear infection is especially hard.
Despite what you may think ear tugging is not a reliable sign, according to experts. So what should parents be on alert for?
“In general, a fever above 102 degrees is one of the hallmarks of an ear infection in a nonverbal child,” says Max M. April, MD, chair of the committee on pediatric otolaryngology for the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
The following signs also may indicate your child is suffering from an ear infection:
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Antibiotics Are Not Always The Answer
About 60 percent of ear infections are believed to be bacterial the other 40 percent are sparked by viruses and can’t be cured by antibiotics.
In 2004, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians jointly issued guidelines for treating acute ear infections in kids. The main message to doctors: Hand out fewer unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics, and give the body’s immune system a chance about two to three days to fight off the infection on its own. Studies have shown that approximately 80 percent of middle-ear infections in children go away without antibiotics in a week or so, and about 60 percent of kids have fewer symptoms after 24 hours, whether they take antibiotics or not.
“Watchful waiting” is appropriate for a healthy child between 6 months and 2 years of age when her symptoms aren’t severe and her doctor isn’t sure after looking in her ear that there’s an infection. It’s also appropriate for kids over 2 without severe symptoms.
During the waiting period, your pediatrician will probably suggest a pain reliever such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or anesthetic ear drops. If your child’s symptoms don’t improve, contact the doctor.
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