An ear infection can be unpleasant for anyone, especially a baby or toddler. Ear infections cause pain, irritability, and loss of appetite. Also, when your child has an ear infection, he or she will grab at the ears. Find out about the symptoms and solutions for pediatric ear infection.
Causes and Concerns
An ear infection (referred to as acute otitis media) occurs behind the eardrum in the middle ear. This type of illness is often called a middle ear infection. Many children, especially those under the age of 7 years, suffer from these types of ear infections. This type of illness causes pain and complications when left untreated. Because of a short Eustachian tube, children are more at risk.
In children, the Eustachian tube is horizontal and short, and therefore often does not function as well as it does in adults . The eustachian tube should ventilate or drain fluid from the eardrum area. When a child suffers from an allergy or even a cold, the tube swells and does not function properly. Air cannot get into the middle section of the ear, and this can create problems, as the air acts like a suction cup and pulls in fluid. When the fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear, an ear infection can develop.
Symptoms and Signs
There are a few different symptoms to look for if you believe your child is suffering from an ear infection. You may not even notice these, as signs of an ear infection are subtle in young children. The symptoms are:
- Pulling or tugging at the ear
- Holding the ear or scratching it
- Drainage from the ear that is thick and yellow
- Ear Pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble hearing
- Loss of appetite
Solutions and Options
There are some things that you can do to avoid an ear infection in children. These are called preventive measures. You should keep the child away from areas where there is a lot of cigarette smoke, and you should not smoke around your child. Cigarette smoke can increase eustachian tube and middle ear congestion and cause an ear infection.
You can also prevent an ear infection by avoiding exposure to germs. Children should avoid spending a prolonged period of time around a sick person, and should always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Children in daycare can sometimes be at increased risk for middle ear infections because colds are common in children and can be transmitted in a group setting. Another risk factor for middle ear infections is use of a pacifier or bottle beyond age 2. The sucking action can promote reflux of saliva up into the eustachian tube opening and middle ear.
There are two different ways to approach treating an ear infection.
The first option is home treatment which involves use of over the counter medication such as Tylenol or Advil to relieve the pain and decrease swelling. If you give a baby or small child these types of medicines, consult medication labeling or your health care provider for the recommended dosage. If the symptoms persist, or if your child develops a fever, you should consult your child’s pediatrician or other available health care provider.
Medical treatment for middle ear infections often involves prescription antibiotics if the infection is persistent or severe. If middle ear infections or middle ear fluid does not resolve over an extended period of time, surgery to place ventilation tubes in the eardrums may be considered. The physicians at Vero ENT Associates have expertise in the evaluation and treatment of severe or chronic middle ear infections.
Pediatric ear infections are a serious concern for parents. Ear infections can cause children a lot pain and can lead to complications. If you think your child has an ear infection, consult one of our caring, experienced pediatric ear specialists. The physicians at Vero ENT Associates will help you find a solution to your child’s symptoms.