Ear infections are one of the most common childhood ailments. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), most children (as many as five out of six) will experience at least one ear infection before the age of three. Since babies and young toddlers can’t describe their symptoms, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of an ear infection and how to treat one.
At Midwest Regional Health Services, our team of urgent and primary care doctors and specialists offer pediatric care at our office in Omaha, Nebraska.
5 signs your child has an ear infection
Here are five of the most common signs that your child may have an ear infection:
Ear pain is the most common sign of an ear infection. If your child is too young or unable to communicate their symptoms, you may notice them tugging their ear or touching the affected ear more than usual. Babies and young toddlers may cry more than usual or be irritable when they have an ear infection.
Fever is common with ear infections, and about half of children with ear infections also develop a fever of 100o F or higher.
3. Trouble hearing
Your child’s ear may feel clogged or “muddled” when they have an ear infection, making it more difficult to hear clearly through the infected ear.
4. Appetite loss
The pain and discomfort of an ear infection can affect your child’s appetite, causing them to eat less than normal. Some children also experience nausea and vomiting when they have an ear infection.
5. Trouble sleeping
Pain generally makes it harder for children to sleep. However when they have an ear infection, the pressure inside the ear can actually feel worse when they’re lying down, making it even more difficult to sleep.
What causes ear infections?
An ear infection develops when either a virus or bacterium gets into the middle ear. It’s fairly common for children to develop ear infections when they’re suffering from a cold or upper respiratory infection, which can pass from the throat into the middle ear.
Children also have smaller eustachian tubes, which drain the air in the ears and help to regulate pressure. When they become swollen or blocked with fluid, one or both ears can become clogged and develop an infection.
Just like colds, young children are especially susceptible to ear infections, and most children will experience at least one. In addition to taking precautions against the common cold, parents should try to prevent children from being around secondhand smoke as much as possible. If you bottle feed, your child should drink in a seated position instead of lying down.
How are ear infections treated?
Ear infections generally clear up on their own. Rest, drinking fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers help to keep your child comfortable while the infection clears up. However in some cases, they may need antibiotics if the infection is both bacterial and severe. Come into the office if your child’s symptoms don’t clear up after a few days or if they get worse.
For more information and prevention and treatment tips for ear infections, contact Midwest Regional Health Services today to schedule an appointment.