By age three, 80-90% of children will have suffered from an ear infection at least one time in their life. Ear infections are incredibly common in children due to the fact that their eustachian tubes (the tubes that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose) are shorter and and more narrow than adults. This leads to the tubes becoming infected more easily. You should know the signs of an ear infection, especially in children who cannot yet talk, as well as the steps to take once you know your child has an ear infection.
How an Ear Becomes Infected
Ear infections often occur in children in conjunction with a cold or after a cold has started to go away. In a normal eustachian tube, fluid drains from the middle ear out though the nose. However, if bacteria or virus infects the eustachian tube, this fluid thickens up and cannot escape properly. This can cause the bacteria in the inner in to flourish. The thicker fluid, as well as the bacteria or virus, causes pressure and pain in the ear.
Signs of an Ear Infection
Ear infections often come in conjunction with a fever, so if your child isn't showing any other signs of illness other than a fever it might be a sign of an ear infection. Increased irritability, due to the presence of pain, along with your child tugging on their infected ear are more signs.
If you notice pus or fluid draining from your child's ear, it is most likely that they have an ear infection. This can also be a more serious sign of a burst eardrum due to the buildup of pressure in your child's ear.
You should also be on the look out for trouble sleeping, as often times children with ear infections cannot sleep due to the pain.
Steps to Take
If you suspect that your child has an ear infection, you should take them to the doctor right away. Your child's doctor will look for the signs of an ear infection, a swollen ear drum or an ear drum that doesn't move properly. Your child's doctor might prescribe antibiotics based on the severity of the infection. However, if the infection is mild your doctor might recommend a few home remedies and tell you to wait 1-2 week to see if the infection has cleared up. If the infection doesn't seem to be getting better, or is getting worse, during this time you can return to the doctor for additional treatment.
There are a number of things that you can do at home to help ease the pain in your child's ear. First, you should give them an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, that is safe for children. This will not only help with the pain, but will help with the fever as well. You should then place a warm, moist compress over your child's infected ear for 10 to 15 minutes. This warm compress will help get the fluid moving, as well as relieve pain.
You can place a few drops of warm olive oil in your child's ear to help ease the pain. However, do not do this unless you are sure that your child's eardrum hasn't ruptured. Make sure that your child is getting plenty of liquids, as well.
If your child has an ear infection, ensure that you get them to clinics like Entira Family Clinics to get a proper diagnoses before you start to treat the infection. These infections will usually clear up eventually, and you child will be happy and healthy again.