An ear infection can be unpleasant for anyone, especially a baby or toddler. Ear infections cause pain, irritability, and loss of appetite. When your child has an ear infection, he or she will likely 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, short, and soft. This tube should 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 suction cup and pulls in fluid. When the fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear, an ear infection develops. Once the fluid is trapped, bacteria and viruses can form which cause the infection.
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 block the tube that goes to the ear, causing the child to get an ear infection. You can also prevent an ear infection by avoiding exposure to germs. Do not spend a prolonged period of time around a sick person, and always wash yours and your child’s hands.
There are two different ways to approach treating an ear infection. Home treatment for an ear infection involves 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 your doctor for the recommended dosage. If the symptoms persist, or the child develops a fever, you should consult a doctor.
Medical treatment for ear infections typically involves prescription antibiotics. If there is a risk of the child developing more serious complications, or if the child is extremely sick, the doctor may have to perform additional tests and treatment. In cases where the child has continuous ear infections, surgery may be performed to insert tubes into the ear to drain the fluid.
Dr. Tamez of Tejas Ear, Nose and Throat loves treating babies and young children. Half of his practice is dedicated to pediatrics. Make an appointment and let Dr. Tamez improve the quality of life and health of your family.