How Do Babies Act When They Have An Ear Infection
Babies usually cry, fuss, or act more irritable than usual because of the pain and pressure they experience from the ear infection. They will also tug or pull their ears.
Though these symptoms are also common with teething, high fever, difficulty sleeping, and fluid draining from ears can be differentiating factors between the two conditions.
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.
How Long Will It Take My Child To Get Better
Your child should start feeling better within a few days after visiting the doctor. If its been several days and your child still seems sick, call your doctor. Your child might need a different antibiotic. Once the infection clears, fluid may still remain in the middle ear but usually disappears within three to six weeks.
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What To Do If Your Child Is Teething
Teething can be pretty uncomfortable for a baby. Do the following to help:
- Ask the pediatrician if you can administer baby painkillers to your child to relieve the pain. If it is acceptable, give them their weight-appropriate dose.
- Keep a clean face towel close by to wipe off the excess drool from your baby face.
- Cool appropriate teething rings and toys in the fridge, and use them to soothe your babys gums. Avoid extremely cold or frozen teething toys as they can hurt your babys mouth. Also, clean the rings and toys after your baby uses them.
- Hold on to a damp and well-folded washcloth for your baby to chew
- Instead of allowing your baby to chew on anything, give them a hard teething cracker.
- Wash your hands in cold water and use it to massage your babys gums before the breastfeeding session. That will prevent them from biting your nipple while feeding.
Infections Inside The Ear
Antibiotics are not usually offered because infections inside the ear often clear up on their own and antibiotics make little difference to symptoms, including pain.
Antibiotics might be prescribed if:
- an ear infection does not start to get better after 3 days
- you or your child has any fluid coming out of the ear
- you or your child has an illness that means there’s a risk of complications, such as cystic fibrosis
They may also be prescribed if your child is less than 2 years old and has an infection in both ears.
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Why Adults Get Ear Infections
Ear infections are often considered a childhood disease. It almost seems a rite of passage for children to experience repeat ear infections. Then, around the beginning of their teenage years, it often stops entirely. By the time a person hits adulthood, it is quite common to be decades of years removed from the last time he or she experienced an ear infection. It almost seems as though it is impossible for adults to get an ear infection, right? Unfortunately, although not as common in adults as it is in children, it is still possible for adults to suffer an ear infection. In fact, around 20% of ear infections occur in adults. This begs the question, why can adults still get them?
How Adults Get an Ear InfectionAdult ear infections are just like the ear infections a person would have gotten when he or she was a child. Most middle ear infections are caused by either bacteria or viruses. A common cold, the flu, or allergy symptoms that cause congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat, and eustachian tubes can sometimes lead to an infection. Anything that makes the nose stuffy has a tendency to cause swelling and blockage of the eustachian tubes. Swelling from colds or allergies can keep the eustachian tubes from opening and this leads to pressure changes and the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. This pressure and fluid will cause pain and sometimes persistent fluid can lead to an infection.
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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How Does It Cause Disease
As long as air entering from the back of the nose is able to reach the middle ear space via the eustachian tube, the middle ear rarely becomes infected. The eustachian tube in younger children is flimsy and easily collapses. As the child grows, the cartilage tissue surrounding the eustachian tube becomes stiffer, longer, and more angulated inside the skull.
Pneumococcus, Haemophilus, and Moraxella commonly reside in the back of the nose, and do not infect the child. Once a child becomes infected with a respiratory virus, it not only causes congestion of the nose and the lungs, but also of the eustachian tube. When this tube becomes clogged, the cells in the middle ear space produce a fluid-like substance, which allows bacteria to grow and infect the middle ear space. A virus infection precedes up to 90% of cases of acute otitis media.
Respiratory virus infections also trigger ear infections by upsetting the body’s normal defenses in the nose and the eustachian tube, and allowing certain normal bacteria that reside in the nose to “stick” better to the lining of the nose and the eustachian tube. Certain viruses, such as the flu and RSV , are more frequently associated with ear infections. Occasionally, the child’s nose becomes colonized by a new aggressive strain of bacteria, which rapidly invades the middle ear. Unfortunately, more exposures to viruses and new strains of bacteria increase the likelihood of ear infections.
How Are Ear Infections In Toddlers Diagnosed
A pediatrician uses the following procedures to determine the presence of an ear infection :
- Ask questions about medical history: The doctor will ask you about the toddlers medical history to know if he suffered from a cold or throat infection recently. Cold and throat infections commonly lead to ear infection.
- Ear inspection with otoscope: The doctor inserts a specialized camera equipment called otoscope into the ear canal to inspect the eardrum. A reddened or inflamed eardrum indicates an ear infection. This is the most common way to diagnose otitis media.
- Acoustic reflectometry: Pneumatic otoscope sends short puffs of air to the eardrum. A healthy eardrum flutters due to the air, but an infected middle ear stays stiff. This procedure is called acoustic reflectometry.
- Tympanometry: A tiny speaker with a sensor is placed within the ear canal, and sound waves of different frequencies are emitted. The sensor measures the movement of the eardrum at various frequencies. The extent an eardrum moves can determine the severity of the ear infection. Tympanometry requires the patient to stay still, and not talk. Therefore, it is better suited for older toddlers who can understand instructions.
Depending on the cause behind the ear infection, the doctor suggests the treatment methods.
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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.
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.
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Chronic Ear Infection In Children
However, some children seem to get ear infections a lot more often than others. The infections might last for longer or reappear very quickly. Sometimes the same infection persists, without responding to the normal treatments.
The most likely cause of persistent ear infection in children is chronic otitis media. Persistent ear problems in children often happen because there is a build-up of fluid in the inner ear. The Eustachian tube isnt draining this fluid properly. This often happens because there is an infection that isnt responding to normal treatments. Fluid can also remain in the middle ear or keep coming back after the infection has gone, which means that the symptoms will persist.
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 Are The Symptoms
The pressure from lack of air flow and general swelling from infections can be very uncomfortable. Your child doesnt need to have suffered a recent cold, though colds, flus and allergies can contribute to the frequency of infections. Children with Down Syndrome and other congenital issues with how their internal structures are formed may also be more prone to infections.
Common symptoms of infection include:
- Sensations of pain and pressure in the ear
- Loss of appetite
- Wanting to be held more often
Signs Of Ear Infection Faqs
Q: How do I know if I have a ruptured eardrum?A: A ruptured eardrum is one of the most common complications of an ear infection. Its symptoms also mirror those of an ear infection, meaning it may be difficult to differentiate between the two. In some cases, however, a ruptured eardrum may result in no symptoms at all. Upon examination, a doctor will be able to identify a ruptured eardrum and advise on appropriate treatment methods. Generally, a ruptured eardrum is considered non-serious and will in most instances heal naturally without the need for medication.
Q: What is the Eustachian tube?A: The Eustachian tube is a narrow canal that connects the middle ear to the throat . Its main function is to ventilate the middle ear and to ensure that the air pressure in both sides of the eardrum remains equalized. When the Eustachian tube becomes blocked as a result of an upper respiratory tract infection , this can create a vacuum in which bacteria can collect and enter the middle ear. This can cause a middle ear infection.
Q: Is earache always a sign of ear infection?A: Although earache is a common symptom of ear infection , earache can also be connected to other conditions such as cold, flu, a buildup of earwax or teething in children. Following an examination, a doctor will be able to identify the root cause of earache and outline treatment options.
Q: What are the signs of an infection around an ear piercing?A: The signs of an ear piercing infection include:
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How Is It Diagnosed
A doctor will usually diagnose a double ear infection by checking a persons medical history and asking about their symptoms.
The doctor will examine both ears using a device called an otoscope. It comprises a light and a magnifying lens. Doctors typically look for redness, swelling, and signs of fluid behind the eardrum, which indicates infection.
A doctor may also use another device, called a pneumatic otoscope, to test how much the eardrum moves in response to pressure. If the eardrum does not respond to this pressure, it suggests fluid buildup behind the ear.
Many single ear infections clear up on their own. But double infections are more likely to require treatments such as:
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:
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Signs And Symptoms Of An Ear Infection In Your Baby Or Toddler
So, how do you know if your baby or toddler has an ear infection? Itâs not easy to figure this out with babies , but there are some signs you can look for. Hereâs how to tell if your baby or toddler has an ear infection:
You may see your baby or younger child pulling at their ear. An older child may tell you their ear hurts
Crying, especially for babies during a feeding, because the sucking and swallowing may cause a change in pressure in the middle ear
Fever, typically between 100.4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
Your toddler may appear to be off-balance when walking since an ear infection affects balance due to fluid in the middle ear
Drainage from the ear that’s either pus or a blood-tinged yellow fluid. This may indicate your childâs eardrum has developed a small hole due to the infection this eventually heals by itself
Not hearing well due to the fluids behind the eardrum, making the transmission of sound difficult. You may notice this if your child is not responsive to softer sounds, or if a child-care provider tells you that your child seems to be inattentive in day care or school. If your child still has hearing issues after the ear infection has been treated or passed, consult their healthcare provider, who may recommend seeing an ear, nose, and throat specialist .
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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