All about ear infections
The grumpy moods, loss of appetite, the pulling of the ear, cold symptoms (runny nose and low-grade fever), and difficulty sleeping are some of the signs that your little one has an ear infection. What causes it and how can you treat your child to help take their pain away? Find the answers you have been looking for below.
Babies and toddlers are much more susceptible to getting ear infections in comparison to adults, and it's normal to see your little one receive up to one or two ear infections a year. It's never fun to handle, but it is still fairly normal. But if your little one has three ear infections in six months or four in a year, then your little one has a case of chronic ear infections.
What causes ear infections in children?
Most ear infections in children are caused due to cold or an infection of the upper respiratory tract which causes a swelling along the lining of the ear canal and also leads to accumulation of fluid therein. Now, the ear canal of children is much shorter and wider than it is in adults, due to which germs travel along this canal much more easily, making them more prone to an ear infection due to a cold. Any fluid trapped in this cavity makes the ear canal a breeding ground for all sorts of infections, thus aggravating the condition.
Symptoms of ear infections
The main symptoms associated with ear infections in children are:
- Excessive crying
- Waking up time and again during the night
- Pulling at the ear
- Shaking the head
- Hitting the head intentionally
- Not responding to sounds
- Loss of appetite
- Oozing out of pus or a bloody discharge from the ear
When to call the doctor
Besides calling the doctor when you suspect an ear infection, you should also see the doctor if you see any of the following symptoms:
- If your baby is less than three months old and has a fever temperature of 38° or higher, and if your child is between three months and three years old and if their fever reaches 38.6° or higher you should definitely see a doctor as this could be a sign of a serious infection.
- If there’s a discharge of blood, fluid, or pus from your child’s ear it could mean that the pressure build-up of fluid in the ear has caused your child’s eardrum to rupture. This release of pressure usually relieves some of the pain and the eardrum will usually heal itself in a few weeks. But you will still need to see the pediatrician within a day or so because your kid will most probably need antibiotics to kill the bacteria that caused the ear infection.
- If your child’s symptoms haven’t improved after three days with or without antibiotics or if the infection gets better then returns again your child may be suffering from chronic ear infections.
Avoiding future ear infections
Here are a few guidelines using which you can minimize the chances of your child getting an ear infection again, though you cannot rule them out altogether:
- Keep your child away from people with cold or other respiratory infections, so that he does not catch a cold at all.
- Do not expose the child to second hand smoke.
- Do not feed the baby while he is lying down, to prevent the milk from trickling into the inner ear, thereby infecting the ear canal.
- Breast milk is rich in antibodies which help build up a child’s immunity. Therefore, breastfeeding a baby till he is at least six months of age can make him strong and healthy enough to ward off minor infections.
- Follow the immunization chart religiously. Certain vaccines for preventing meningitis and pneumonia can also help reduce risk of ear infections.