It’s common for babies and toddlers to develop an ear infection. But what causes it, how can worried moms prevent it, and why does this condition become less and less common as our children grow older (thank God!). Read more about ear infections.
Signs your child has an ear infection
Many kids develop an ear infection after a cold. But it can also strike any time, and it can be hard for moms to spot it especially when it happens to a baby or a pre-verbal toddler. Watch out for behavioral that indicates discomfort in the ear area, like tugging at the ear and crankiness. Other symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting. A lack of balance or difficulty hearing can also be a sign of ear infection.
Causes of ear infections
Kids may be more susceptible to ear infections because of the shape of their eustachian tube, which is found in the middle ear and reaches to the back of the throat. Once this tube swells or becomes inflamed, fluid from any upper respiratory infection (or in layman’s terms, a cold) can become trapped. This leads to another surge of viral or bacterial growth.
Should I be concerned if my child gets frequent ear infections?
Any ear infection should be checked by the doctor, who will be able to assess the situation. However it’s not uncommon for kids to get as man as three ear infections a year. The most important thing is for the fluid to be completely drained to prevent more severe infections. Prolonged ear infections, or extremely bad cases, can temporarily affect hearing—but since language development is so crucial in the first three years, it’s important to immediately treat any thing that may interfere with your child’s ability to listen and communicate.
What can moms do during a child’s ear infection
Doctors will usually prescribe ear drops and (if pain is severe) an acetaminophen. Warm compresses may also help alleviate discomfort. However do call your doctor if you notice the infection and the pain is increasing, to prevent severe complications like a ruptured ear drum.
Most ear infections improve within 2-3 days without any medical treatment. As long as the symptoms remain mild, your doctor may advise you to place a warm compress over the affected ear or prescribe acetaminophen or eardrops to help lessen the pain. Be sure to notify your child’s pediatrician if the infection worsens to prevent severe complications such as a ruptured eardrum. Your doctor may treat more aggressive ear infections with stronger antibiotics, or refer you to a specialist.