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 have heard, 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, M.D., a pediatric otolaryngologist in New York City and 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 has an ear infection.
When Do Children Need Tubes In Their Ears
If your child has frequent ear infections, or if they have trouble hearing because of ongoing fluid in the middle ear, they may need a tube inserted through the eardrum and into the middle ear. The tube helps to keep air pressure normal on both sides of the ear drum and helps fluid drain from the middle ear.
Putting tubes in requires a brief operation by an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Children can usually go home the same day.
Can Bath Or Pool Water Cause Ear Infections
Bath water usually wont get past the eardrum to reach the middle ear. , which can develop from water that stays in the outer ear canal for too long, is not the same as a middle ear infection despite the potential for similar symptoms.
Drying ears thoroughly after swimming or bathing can help reduce the risk of ear infection.
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Best Ear Infection Treatments For Infants
Sometimes a babys ear infection does not require an antibiotic and will heal on its own. The babys natural immune system takes care of the infection.
Doctors usually recommend that parents wait two to three days after symptoms appear in their babies. This is to allow for time for the infection to clear up on its own. When it is apparent that your baby needs an antibiotic is when doctors will step in.
Sometimes home remedies can help. These at-home treatments may make symptoms better, thus alleviating pain and discomfort until you can get into your doctor.
Over-the-counter medication. If your baby is six months or older, you may consider giving your child acetaminophen to relieve pain and fever. Always speak to a doctor before giving the medication to your baby.
Warm compress. To help alleviate the pain, you can hold a warm compress to your infants ear. Fluids. Also to help alleviate the pain, you can give your baby plenty of fluids to promote swallowing, which can help drain the middle ear.
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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Living With An Ear Infection
If your child suffers from several ear infections each year, youll want to look out for symptoms every time they have a stuffy nose or congestion.
Never stick anything in your childs ear to relieve the pain of an ear infection, to remove the tubes or remove a foreign object. See your childs doctor to have it removed.
Are Ear Infections In Babies And Children Ever Serious
They can be. A severe or untreated infection can rupture your child’s eardrum. Ruptures don’t happen very often and generally heal quickly, but it’s important to follow up with your child’s doctor to make sure the infection has cleared up and the eardrum is healing well.
Repeated ear infections can sometimes cause hearing loss and scarring. And in very rare cases, untreated ear infections lead to mastoiditis or meningitis.
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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.
Can Ear Infections Be Prevented
Currently, the best way to prevent ear infections is to reduce the risk factors associated with them. Here are some things you might want to do to lower your childs risk for ear infections.
- Vaccinate your child against the flu. Make sure your child gets the influenza, or flu, vaccine every year.
- It is recommended that you vaccinate your child with the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine . The PCV13 protects against more types of infection-causing bacteria than the previous vaccine, the PCV7. If your child already has begun PCV7 vaccination, consult your physician about how to transition to PCV13. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children under age 2 be vaccinated, starting at 2 months of age. Studies have shown that vaccinated children get far fewer ear infections than children who arent vaccinated. The vaccine is strongly recommended for children in daycare.
- Wash hands frequently. Washing hands prevents the spread of germs and can help keep your child from catching a cold or the flu.
- Avoid exposing your baby to cigarette smoke. Studies have shown that babies who are around smokers have more ear infections.
- Never put your baby down for a nap, or for the night, with a bottle.
- Dont allow sick children to spend time together. As much as possible, limit your childs exposure to other children when your child or your childs playmates are sick.
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Does Using A Pacifier Increase The Risk Of An Ear Infection
Research has indicated that the risk of ear infection may be up to higher in children who use a pacifier. Additionally, children who use a pacifier continuously may be more at risk of an ear infection than those who only use it occasionally.
However, using a pacifier is a personal choice. In some cases, using a pacifier is recommended.
Talk with your pediatrician if you have questions about pacifier use, especially if your baby has frequent ear infections.
How Do Ear Infections Happen
A middle ear infection usually happens because of swelling in one or both of the eustachian tubes . The tubes let mucus drain from the middle ear into the throat.
A cold, throat infection, acid reflux, or allergies can make the eustachian tubes swell. This blocks the mucus from draining. Then, viruses or bacteria grow in the mucus and make pus, which builds up in the middle ear.
When doctors refer to an ear infection, they usually mean otitis media rather than swimmer’s ear . Otitis media with effusion is when noninfected fluid builds up in the ear. It might not cause symptoms, but in some kids, the fluid creates a sensation of ear fullness or “popping.”
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Reducing The Risk Of An Ear Infection
Even though babies are more susceptible to ear infections, there are ways to help reduce the risk of an ear infection:
- Make sure baby gets their flu vaccine when theyre old enough .
- Reduce the risk of the colds and respiratory infections that can lead to ear infections. Avoid sharing toys, bottles, utensils, and food, wash your hands often, and stay away from people who are sick.
- Keep your babys allergy symptoms under control.
- If you bottle feed, keep baby in an upright position while feeding. This way, the formula or breastmilk wont flow into babys level eustachian tubes and get trapped in the middle ear.
- Dont put baby to sleep with a bottle.
- Keep baby away from cigarette smoke, as studies show secondhand smoke increases childrens ear infection risk.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your babys health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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Should I Take My Baby To The Doctor
Even if you are unsure if your baby is experiencing an ear infection, it’s better to err on the side of caution and call your doctor.
If they do not believe there is an issue, they may tell you to stay home. However, since baby ear infections are so common, its likely they will have you come in for an exam. There is no harm in getting things checked outthe worst that will happen is that your baby doesnt have an ear infection and you can feel some relief.
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How Breastfeeding Impacts The Risk Of Ear Infection
Breastfeeding your baby offers significant immunity against ear infections. In fact, research shows that formula-fed babies are twice as likely to get ear infections than breastfed babies. In addition to the nutritional benefits, breast milk also contains powerful antibodies that help them to ward off infections, including those of the ear, throat, and lungs.
Additionally, studies show that this protection lasts way beyond the breastfeeding years. Breastfed babies experience fewer infections than their formula-fed peers, from infancy all the way to at least age 6.
Why Do Kids Get Ear Infections
Kids get ear infections more than adults do for several reasons:
- Their shorter, more horizontal eustachian tubes let bacteria and viruses find their way into the middle ear more easily. The tubes are also narrower, so more likely to get blocked.
- Their adenoids, gland-like structures behind the nose, are larger and can interfere with the opening of the eustachian tubes.
Other things that can put kids at risk include secondhand smoke, bottle-feeding, and being around other kids in childcare. Ear infections are more common in boys than girls.
Ear infections are not contagious, but the colds that sometimes cause them can be. Infections are common during winter weather, when many people get upper respiratory tract infections or colds .
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Check If It’s An Ear Infection
The symptoms of an ear infection usually start quickly and include:
- discharge running out of the ear
- a feeling of pressure or fullness inside the ear
- itching and irritation in and around the ear
- scaly skin in and around the ear
Young children and babies with an ear infection may also:
- rub or pull their ear
- not react to some sounds
- be irritable or restless
- be off their food
- keep losing their balance
Most ear infections clear up within 3 days, although sometimes symptoms can last up to a week.
If you, or your child, have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.
|Inner ear infection||Middle ear infection||Outer ear infection|
|Can affect both children and adults||Usually affects children||Usually affects adults aged 45 to 75|
|Caused by viral or bacterial infections||Caused by viruses like colds and flu||Caused by something irritating the ear canal, such as eczema, water or wearing earplugs|
|Affects parts of the inner ear like the labyrinth and vestibular system, and can lead to labyrinthitis||Affects the eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the nose||Affects the ear canal|
What Should I Expect If I Or My Child Has An Ear Infection
Ear infections are common in children. Adults can get them too. Most ear infections are not serious. Your healthcare provider will recommend over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever. Pain relief may begin as soon as a few hours after taking the drug.
Your healthcare provider may wait a few days before prescribing an antibiotic. Many infections go away on their own without the need for antibiotics. If you or your child receives an antibiotic, you should start to see improvement within two to three days.
If you or your child has ongoing or frequent infections, or if fluid remains in the middle ear and puts hearing at risk, ear tubes may be surgically implanted in the eardrum to keep fluid draining from the eustachian tube as it normally should.
Never hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions.
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Baby Ear Infection: Causes Symptoms Treatment
Your baby has been battling a cold. Now theyre tugging at their ears and acting fussy. Last night they didnt sleep so well, either. Of course, they cant tell you what is wrong, but you cant help thinking they might have an ear infection. Could it be true? If so, how serious are ear infections in babies? And what should you do next?
The good news is that ear infections are very common among children under the age of two, and they are also generally very treatable.
Lets take a look at how ear infections affect babies, what causes them, what symptoms to look for, when you should take your baby to the doctor, how to prevent them in the first placeand most importantly, what can be done so that your little one feels better.
Check If Its An Ear Infection
If you notice any of the following signs in your baby, it is essential to take her to the doctor as soon as possible:
-Rubbing or pulling at the ear
-Fluid drainage from the ear
These are the most common signs that your baby has an ear infection. A diagnosis can be made through a physical examination by a doctor and sometimes requires further testing, such as a hearing test, to confirm. Treatment usually consists of antibiotics but may require additional medical intervention if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing complications from ear infections.
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When Else Are Antibiotics Needed
Antibiotics can be the right treatment for kids who get a lot of ear infections. Younger children or those with more severe illness may need antibiotics right from the start.
The “wait-and-see” approach also might not apply to children with other concerns, such as those who have cochlear implants, cleft palate, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, or other illnesses such as immune system disorders.
What Are The Main Reasons For Ear Infection In Babies
Why do Babies get Ear Infection so often? There are 3 main reasons for repeated Ear infection in Babies.
Low Immunity In The Babies
Since the immune system in Babies is still developing, even a slight infection should be taken care of immediately. The surrounding area should be clean and dry.
Structure of the Ear in Babies
A babys Eustachian tube is short and the angle is less than a gown persons Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube is straight hence water tends to stay in the tube instead of draining out. The wet and moist tube is an ideal breeding ground for germs and bacteria to develop.
The above mentioned reasons are natural and are beyond our control. The common cold is the other common reasons which we can eliminate or avoid to reduce chances of Ear Infection in Babies.
The Common cold is the main cause of ear infection in babies. Studies show that 23% of the babies get common cold by the time they are one year old. And 80% of the children get cold more than once till they reach the age of 4 years.
During the cold the Eustachian tube tends to get blocked. This results in the build-up of water in the Eustachian tube. The accumulation of water results in the growth of bacteria.
A Viral infection is also one of the causes of ear Infection. The Paediatrician will inspect and determine if the infection is Bacterial or Viral.
This short video on 8 signs of Ear Infection in Babies is a must watch for parents.
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Can Baby Ear Infections Be Prevented
Ear infections are very common. In most cases, theres not much parents can do to prevent themand you shouldnt feel guilty if it happens to your baby! However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your baby will come down with an ear infection:
- Breastfeedingyou dont have to breastfeed full-time to reap benefits
- Reducing your babys exposure to secondhand smoke
- Practicing good hygiene such as frequent hand washing to reduce the chances of your baby picking up a viral infection that may lead to an ear infection
- Keeping up with your babys vaccines and getting an annual flu shot