While ear infections are common in children, they can be hard to notice, especially if your child does not speak yet. Being able to identify the signs can ensure you seek treatment quickly, helping your child find relief.
What Is an Ear Infection?
According to Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician in Atlanta and the editor of American Academy of Pediatrics Baby & Child Health, “An ear infection happens when you get infected fluid or pus behind the eardrum.” This is usually caused by a cold.
Children under three are most likely to get an ear infection because “they don’t have strong immune systems. They haven’t been exposed to many of these germs before, so it takes them a little longer to fight them off.”
In addition, the Eustachian tubes in young children are more horizontal. These tubes connect the middle ear to the throat and allow fluid that has collected inside the ear to drain. When the tubes are horizonal, they don’t work as well.
Ear Infection Symptoms
Common symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Ear drainage
- Trouble hearing
- Trouble sleeping
- Ear tugging
- Poor appetite
Shu explains, “for many children, it’s just fussiness, crying more than usual, being clingy.”
Treatment for Ear Infections
Children younger than six months will require antibiotics in order to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of their bodies.
According to the guidelines put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors should consider observing children between six months and two years old instead of giving them antibiotics if they are not seriously ill.
Children over two years of age are usually only given antibiotics after 48 to 72 hours of an ear infection if there is no improvement.
How to Prevent Ear Infections
The best way to prevent an ear infection from occurring is to:
- Breastfeed your child
- Prevent colds by washing their hands and limiting group care
- Keep your child’s allergies under control
- Don’t smoke
- Vaccinate your child
To learn more about care for your child’s ear infection or to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor, contact ENT & Allergy Partners today.