Tests For Middle Ear Infection
The GP will look carefully at the inside of your childs ear using an instrument called an otoscope.
The GP might also do a tympanometry. This test measures how much your childs eardrum can move, and it can help the GP work out whether the ear is normal. Its usually a painless test that takes just a couple of minutes.
If your child has had several ear infections, or if your doctor thinks there might be a chronic infection or glue ear, the doctor might organise a hearing test. Your child can have a formal hearing test at any age.
How To Tell If Your Child Has An Ear Infection And What To Do
Ear infections in children are more prevalent than you think. But, most ear infections when caught early, are not serious. Heres how you can tell if your child has an ear infection.
If your child cannot say My ear/s hurt, then these are the symptoms you should watch out for:
fever experiencing pain when sucking, chewing, or pain when laying down difficulty in sleeping difficulty in hearing
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 Â;101Âº â 102ÂºF Â;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.
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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.
Where Is The Middle Ear
The middle ear is behind the eardrum and is also home to the delicate bones that aid in hearing. These bones are the hammer , anvil and stirrup . To provide the bigger picture, lets look at the whole structure and function of the ear:
The ear structure and function
There are three main parts of the ear: outer, middle and inner.
- The outer ear is the outside external ear flap and the ear canal .
- The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. The middle ear houses the delicate bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This is where ear infections occur.
- The inner ear contains the snail-shaped labyrinth that converts sound vibrations received from the middle ear to electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain.
Other nearby parts
- The eustachian tube regulates air pressure within the middle ear, connecting it to the upper part of the throat.
- Adenoids are small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids help fight infection caused by bacteria that enters through the mouth.
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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.;
When Is It More Than An Ear Infection
There are a couple of cases when your child may be experiencing more than a standard ear infection:
- The chronic ear infection: One or two ear infections a year, while never fun to handle, are fairly normal. A chronic ear infection may be the result of an acute ear infection that does not clear completely, or of recurrent ear infections.
- Otitis media with effusion : Sometimes fluid from an ear infection remains in the middle ear and doesnt clear even after treatment. When fluid remains for too long in the ear even after an infection clears, its considered otitis media with effusion, or OME. While typically temporary lasting four to six weeks OME could lead to temporary hearing loss. Since the hearing loss can become permanent if the condition continues untreated for many months, its important for your child to see the pediatrician.;
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When Should I Call For A Doctor
Ear infections may affect your childs hearing temporarily; however, very rarely, it can get worse and may lead to complications. Therefore, if your child is not getting any better after a few days of treatment, dont hesitate to see your family medical provider.
Other things like teething, obstruction in the ear, a foreign object, or hard earwax may also be a reason for an earache. Your medical provider can find the cause of discomfort and treat it.
How To Prevent Childhood Ear Infections
While you cant do much to change your child’s family history, you can take the following steps to prevent ear infections:
From the What to Expect editorial team and;Heidi Murkoff,;author of;What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our;medical review and editorial policy.
- What to Expect the First Year, 3rd edition, Heidi Murkoff.
- What to Expect the Second Year, Heidi Murkoff.
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They Tug At Their Ears
While a toddler wont be able to tell you that their ear hurts, they can show you. You may be able to discern whether your child could have an ear infection by whether or not they are tugging and pulling at their ears. Again, the pressure inside the ears can be incredibly uncomfortable and even painful, and children might fidget with their ears to minimize the discomfort.
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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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:
They May Have Trouble Sleeping
Its not too surprising that with pressure building up in the middle ear due to bacteria that your child may get fussy or even throw a tantrum about going to bed. Children with ear infections often toss and turn and feel worse when they lie down. If your little one suddenly starts crying when they lie down this could be a sign of an ear infection.
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How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting An Ear Infection
- Wash your childs hands and your own often to reduce the chance of catching a cold.
- Breastfeed your baby.
- Avoid bottle-feeding your baby when they are lying down. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
- Transition your baby from a bottle to a cup by 1 year of age.
- Dont use a pacifier too often.
- Dont smoke, and keep your child away from any secondhand smoke. Exposure to smoke can increase the risk of ear infections.
- Ensure your child gets the pneumococcal vaccine .
- Ensure your child gets a flu shot every year.;
Pediatric Care In Denver
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children is dedicated to providing the best health treatment for children of all ages. Our board-certified physicians and pediatricians are committed to offering personalized care for each and every child. Talk to your childs doctor about any concerns you have about your childs health.
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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
Follow Up With The Doctor
Most doctors will have you follow up anywhere from one to four weeks after an ear infection. There are several reasons for this:
- To make sure the infection is clearing up
- To make sure the middle ear fluid is draining out. If the fluid stays around continuously for more than three months, your doctor needs to know
- To help determine if the next ear infection is a new one or a continuation of an old infection. This helps determine which antibiotic to use. Your doctor may perform a tympanogram a rubber probe that painlessly fits into your babys ear canal and measures how the eardrum vibrates. This helps determine if there is any fluid left
IMPORTANT NOTE: Try to avoid over-treating with unnecessary repeated courses of antibiotics. At your follow-up visit with your doctor, there may still be fluid in the middle ear. If the ear is not red or bulging and your child is acting fine, you may not need another course of antibiotics. Doctors will vary in how aggressive they like to treat ear fluid. You may be able to spare your child from an unnecessary course of antibiotics.
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Is It A Bacterial Infection Or Virus
Bacterial infections are caused by bacteria, while viral infections are caused by viruses. That’s the easy part. Differentiating between the two requires medical intervention since;both may cause fever and irritability. And the treatments vary significantly. Pediatrician Betty Staples, MD, offers advice on how to tell the difference between these two types of infection.
Every day, parents bring their children to the pediatrician for help in determining whether their sick child has “just a cold” or something more.
Children’s colds result in 22 million missed school days and 20 million parental missed days of work every year. In most cases, these are the “just a cold” variety of virus. However, we also know that other, less common infections can develop in our children, and these need evaluation by the pediatrician to determine if antibiotics are required.
Where Can I Find Additional Information About Ear Infections
The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.;
Use the following keywords to help you search for organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information on ear infections:
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How To Tell If Your Child Has An Ear Infection: 5 Common Signs
It can be difficult enough to determine when you have an ear infection as an adult, but what if you think that your child, who may lack the ability to express themselves fully, may have one instead?
If youre wondering how to tell if your child has an ear infection, keep reading below. Weve outlined five common signs of ear infections could they apply to your child?
How Ear Infections Resolve
There are two components of ear infections that need to resolve:
- Infection the antibiotics usually take care of the bacteria, which in turn resolves the fever and pain within a few days.
- Middle ear fluid it takes much longer for this to resolve, anywhere from a few days up to 3 months! The fluid slowly drains out through the Eustachian tube down into the nose. Taking repeated courses of antibiotics does not speed up this process, since the fluid is usually no longer infected with bacteria. Chronic nasal congestion or allergies can block the Eustachian tube and therefore prevent the ears from draining. Your childs hearing may be muffled until the fluid drains out. This is not permanent. See below how to prevent ear infections with tips on how to improve ear drainage.
Remember, since the runny nose and cough are usually caused by a cold virus and not bacteria, it may be 3 14 days before these symptoms resolve.
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What Symptoms Should Parents Look For
Acute ear infections can be quite painful. Common symptoms include fever, irritability, trouble sleeping and eating, and sometimes pus or bloody fluid leaking from the ear. Very young children who cannot talk may pull or pick at their ears, head bang, or shake their head repeatedly.
Chronic ear infection symptoms may be more difficult for parents to spot. Children may complain of hearing loss, a sensation of pressure in their ears, and a loss of balance. Sometimes a discharge will come from the ear. There may be a delay in the development of speech and language.
Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your childs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Treatment for an Ear Infection
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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.
Symptoms That Teething And Ear Infections Share
There are a lot of symptoms of teething and ear infections that are pretty similar, so it can be hard to tell them apart when your child is feeling unwell.
If your little one is waking more frequently in the night, then they might be teething, or have an ear infection. Fussiness during the day or at night can be a sure sign something is wrong with your baby, with many different causes.
Flushed red cheeks are another symptom that could point to either teething or an ear infection.
If your little one is restless, irritable, and has a reduced appetite, then it’s most likely that something is wrong. Check with the symptoms below to try to identify if this is an ear infection or if your child is teething. Â;
Cheek rubbing is often something your child will do when they have ear pain or sore gums, so this could point to either cause. If your baby is ear pulling or hitting their ears, this could be because of pain in their ears, but it also could actually be caused by teething pains. Often babies can’t detect the exact place their pain is coming from, so they think that ear pulling will help. Â;If they haven’t got a fever or any cold symptoms, then this is probably a symptom of their teething pain.
If your baby is refusing to lie flat on their back, it could be because they have an ear infection or because of teething pains.
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Could Your Child Have An Ear Infection Signs To Look For
For new mom Jenny, sleepless nights were the norm, for both her and her baby Austin. Sure, her first child Anna was a fussy eater and would sometimes lay awake for hours cooing to herself or tussling with her favorite stuffed animal. But it was different with Austin, who could never seem to find a comfortable position and would toss and turn all night long.
One evening, when Jenny went to check on Austin, she noticed a tiny puddle of shiny liquid near his head. Had be thrown up? Jenny was scared to look. But then it became apparent that the fluid was drainage from Austins ears! No wonder he couldnt sleep! That night, Jenny went online to make an appointment for Austin with their pediatrician, and was lucky to find one for the next day. Thats when the pediatrician confirmed exactly what Jenny had suspected, that Austin indeed was suffering from chronic ear infections.
While Jenny was relieved that this mystery was solved and Austin could finally get some relief, she was still frustrated with herself for missing the signs. If you think your child could have an ear infection, here are the signs that parents might not notice at first:
What To Watch For
Most likely, you already keep a close eye on your children. If you notice anything different in their behavior, they may be trying to tell you they dont feel well or something hurts. Here are some clues your child may have an ear infection:;
- Fussy or crying more than normal
- Trouble sleeping
- Pulling or tugging on their ear
- Fluid or discharge from the ear
- Cant keep their balance
- Trouble hearing or less responsive than normal
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How To Treat Ear Infections In My Toddler
When your child has developed an ear infection, there are some things you can do to ease their pain, though ultimately they will need medical treatment to rid their body of the infection.
1. Home Remedies
Cold medication will not help manage an ear infection, but acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help to ease discomfort. Do not provide your child with aspirin for pain.
Be held upright
Children over 2 can sleep with a pillow and younger children can be held or kept upright in their car seat as this will make it easier for the ear to drain. Once they relax, allow them to sleep in their crib.
Take a dropper or tuck a cotton ball
If your child does not have discharge coming from their ear, take a dropper and place 2-3 drops of olive or sesame oil at room temperature into the ear to help release fluid. If your child has pus coming from their ear, tuck a cotton ball into the external ear to absorb it.
Swallowing can release pressure on the inner ear by encouraging drainage. Give your child plenty of fluids or give older children a piece of sugarless gum that will help to naturally promote swallowing.
2. Treatments of a Doctor
- Insert tympanostomy tubes