Is your baby crying at night without any reason? A baby ear infection is one of the prominent causes of distress and pain in young infants. It can make them uncomfortable making them lay at night crying without sleep. Different reasons can make your child uncomfortable. So, how can you say that an ear infection is the culprit? Read ahead to know comprehensive details about the problem. It will help you take the necessary steps to prevent the problem from troubling your child. It is essential to manage any problem affecting your infant at its early stage to avoid any complication in the future.
What Is Baby Ear Infection?
Everyone can suffer from an infection. But, young children between the ages of six months and two years old can suffer from infection in the ear more compared to older adults. While older people can convey their pain, infants cannot communicate how they feel. So, you need to observe infants closely to check for infections. Children suffer from the problem due to the undeveloped immune system. So, they cannot ward off any infection. Another reason for the problem is the size as well as the shape of the Eustachian tubes. The bacteria or virus can result in the fluid buildup in the Eustachian tubes leading to the ear infection. The fluid buildup prevents the normal draining from the middle ear. So, it results in infection. Sinus infection, allergies or cold can also cause a baby ear infection.
Baby Ear Infection Signs
Since babies and toddlers may not have the language skills to communicate verbally about their distress, you fail to understand the problem. But, you can determine the presence of baby ear infection with the common signs. So, look for the following signs:
Tugging At Ear
If you observe closely, you can see that children suffering from an ear infection can tug at their ears. Although children may tug at their ear for several other reasons, infection in the ear tops it. When your child suffers from the infection in the ear, it can result in ear pain as well as severe discomfort. So, your child pulls his/her ear to relieve the pain. It is observed that children below the age of one can hit their ear. It is because they have difficulty connecting the pain or difficulty in locating the exact location of the pain.
Difficulty Lying Down/Sleeping
The ear infection can lead to a shift in pressure experienced in the middle ear when children lie down. So, the change in pressure can result in severe pain and discomfort. It makes your child uncomfortable while lying down or sleeping. Lying down flat becomes more difficult for your child leading to crying and fussing.
Ear drainage is the sure sign indicating towards baby ear infection. It can result in fluid or pus leaking out from your child’s ear. It is not a common problem experienced by all children with infection. The pus or fluid can result from the rupture of the eardrum. It can cause thick, yellow pus or bloody fluid to come out of the ear. Never fear about the ruptured eardrum as it can heal on its own after a few weeks.
Your child can cry more than usual due to the infection in the ear. The pain and distress can make your child fussy or irritable than normal. While you can connect crying to different problems, you need to observe your child for additional signs indicating infection.
Trouble Hearing Properly
Infection in the ear can cause difficulty in hearing properly. It is because the fluids can build up and settle in your baby’s middle ear. Therefore, the infection can result in temporary hearing loss. It can interfere with the communication skills of infants and toddlers. Children may become unresponsive to sounds.
The human body tries to fight any infection. It can result in a high fever. So, children suffering from a temperature of 100F can point towards infection in the ear. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the common symptoms experienced by your baby. It suggests the baby has some infection, which immune system tries to ward off.
Loss Of Balance
Your balance is located in your inner ear. So, the infection in the ear can result in the building up of pressure as well as the fluid inside the ear. It can cause several problems in your baby like clumsiness, unsteadiness, or dizziness. If you observe any of the signs, then you need to take your baby to the doctor.
Other Common Health Problems
Other than the above-mentioned issues, your baby can experience other physical ailments. The infection in the ear can adversely affect the gastrointestinal tract. So, it can upset your baby’s stomach. It can lead to the following problems like:
- Reduced appetite
The infection in the ear can result in difficulty in chewing or swallowing of the food. It happens due to the change in the pressure inside the ear. Therefore, it can reduce your baby’s appetite. You need to look for additional signs that indicate an infection in the ear.
Causes Of Baby Ear Infection
A baby ear infection occurs mainly due to bacteria and viruses. The virus and bacteria are types of germs that can cause problems in your baby’s health. In most cases, the infection in ear begins after getting a cough or cold due to the germs. So, your child can experience problems when the germs travel to the middle ear. It comes through the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the top of your baby’s throat. Once the germs reach the middle ear, it causes inflammation of tissues surrounding the region. It results in bulging and swelling of the affected area. The area also turns red. In some cases, fluid can build up behind the eardrum. All the complications can contribute to a hearing problem.
A baby ear infection can recur. You may feel worried about the frequent infection affecting your child. But, do not worry. Your child will stop getting the infection in their ears by the age of six. The chronic infection in the ear is common in young children due to the shorter Eustachian tubes. It also occurs due to its more horizontal shape. The shape encourages the fluid to accumulate behind the eardrum. So, it makes your baby prone to infections.
Diagnosing Baby Ear Infection
When you observe the signs associated with a baby ear infection, make an appointment your pediatrician. The doctor specialized to deal with issues in children can diagnose the problem accurately to provide proper treatment. So, the following diagnostic techniques can help come to a confirmative conclusion:
Physical assessment is the main diagnostic technique to detect the first signs of an ear infection. Your doctor looks into your baby’s ear using a specialized instrument called an otoscope. The visual appearance of the eardrum can provide information on the status of your child’s ear. A bulging eardrum with red color with possible draining can point towards infection in the ear.
Your baby’s doctor also checks the eardrum’s movement in response to another device to detect the presence of infection. The device known as pneumatic otoscope can help detect the problem. It releases a brief puff of air into your baby’s ear. The movement or lack of movement can suggest the status of the problem. No movement of eardrum points towards fluid collection in the middle ear. It also indicates the presence of infection. In such cases, your doctor offers a treatment plan to overcome the infection in the ear.
Baby Ear Infection Treatment
In most cases, the treatment of baby ear infection depends on the severity of the issue. Your pediatrician can detect the issue with your child and take necessary action. The following options are available to treat your child’s infection.
Wait And Watch Approach
When your child suffers mild infection, your doctor adopts a wait and see approach. So, your doctor sees if the problem goes away on its own. Most mild cases of an infection go away without medications. So, the symptoms improve after a couple of days. Your child recovers completely after one to two weeks. But, if the approach does not show results, then make an appointment with your doctor. Your child needs medical attention to alleviate the infection. Therefore, consult the doctor to get a proper treatment plan to heal the infection. In the majority of the cases, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to alleviate the symptoms associated with the infection in the ear.
If the signs associated with infection in the ear do not go away after waiting and watching for a few days, then you need to schedule an appointment with your child’s primary care physician. Your doctor can perform a full checkup of your child to develop a proper treatment plan. Antibiotics are the type of medication that has the power to kill the bacteria causing the infection. In most cases, the doctor prescribes oral antibiotics. It is easy to give your child oral antibiotics instead of pills. The duration of the treatment ranges from seven to ten days. The number of days needed to take the antibiotics depends entirely on the medicine suggested by your doctor. You must always complete the course of medication even if the pain goes away. It is because the infection can return once you stop the medication.
Once you complete the course of medication, you need to take your child back to the doctor for another checkup. The follow-up visit can help you make sure that your child has no infections. The medical professional can confirm the complete clearing of infection. The infection at times can remain even if the symptoms clear. So, you need to get the professional all clear to have peace of mind.
Tubes In Ears
In most of the cases, the baby ear infection can clear on its own or by using antibiotics. But, the chronic ear infection can result in the building of fluids in the middle ears. It may not clear with antibiotics. In such cases, healthcare providers suggest placing small tubes. It is placed into the eardrums to drain the fluids behind the eardrums. Placing the tubes will also allow air into the baby’s middle ear. The method is suggested only when the fluid buildup fails to drain completely even after several months. Therefore, the doctor waits for several months to place the tubes. Your doctor orders for antibiotics as well as hearing tests before opting the procedure. Remember, the method is recommended only when the condition lasts for more than 4 to 6 months. It is also suggested in cases where the affected child suffers from hearing problems.
Once you start the treatment, your child can start feeling better within a few days. Your pediatrician carefully selects the ideal plan to manage the condition successfully. But, you need to carefully follow the instructions suggested by your healthcare provider to see the difference. So, you need to give the prescribed medications at the right time in the right doses to see positive effects.
Complications Due To Baby Ear Infection
When you ignore the problem, it can result in some complications. Apart from the persistent crying and discomfort, your baby can experience middle ear fluid. It is the fluid buildup behind the eardrum. It can occur due to the infection leading to the following issue:
- Cause distortion of hearing in both the ears at the same time
- Delayed speech development in children due to hearing loss
Therefore, you must never the treatment for baby ear infection. Prolonging it can affect your child’s development. Your doctor can suggest different treatment options, including antibiotics to alleviate the issue completely.
Home Remedies For Baby Ear Infection
In mild cases of baby ear infection, you can take some steps at home to reduce pain. The steps offer your child relief from the distress and agony caused due to infection in the ear. So, you can try the following steps at home:
Place Warm Compress
You can place a warm compress over your baby’s ear for ten to fifteen minutes. The moist yet warm compress can reduce the pain due to the infection in the ear.
If your child is more than six months old, then you can give OTC medication containing acetaminophen. It can relieve pain and fever. You need to talk to your doctor before using it. Always follow the recommendation offered by the doctor along with the instruction provided on the medication’s bottle. You need to give a dose of the medication before your child goes to bed. It can reduce the pain and associated discomfort.
Pour Warm Oil
It is the home remedy suggested for children who suffer only from pain due to the infection. You must never opt the method if the child experiences fluid draining or a ruptured eardrum. So, to relieve pain, you need to pour a few drops of oil. The oil slightly warm or having room temperature can offer immense relief. Choose sesame oil or olive oil for best results.
It is important for your child to drink fluids at regular intervals while suffering from an infection in the ear. Swallowing can aid in the opening of the Eustachian tube. Therefore, it can drain the trapped fluid out, which eases the pain and discomfort.
Elevate The Head
You need to elevate the baby’s head while they lie down in their crib. The action helps sinus drainage. While trying to elevate the head, avoid placing the pillow directly under the child’s head. Instead, you can place the pillow/pillows under the mattress.
Prevent Baby Ear Infection
As parents, your main concern always remains the well-being of your child. So, the thoughts mainly focus on preventing any infection to the ears. How is it possible? You can adopt several steps to reduce the risk of infection in your child. Therefore, try to implement the following steps that will reduce the possibility of developing infections in the ear:
Stop Smoking Around Children
Smoking is injurious to health. Passive smoking can also cause problems for your child’s health. You must never smoke around your children. Several studies indicate that second-hand smoke can increase your child’s risk by two to three times of developing infections.
It is observed that baby ear infection is less among children who drink milk from their mother. So, bottle-fed children face more risk of developing infections in the ear.
If you opt for bottle feeding, then you need to pay attention to the position of your baby while feeding. Always keep the baby in a sitting position when you give milk in a bottle. It is due to the fact that when your child drinks milk from the bottle lying down, the milk can flow into the middle ear. It can result in infection.
Keep Check On Allergies
You need to monitor your child for allergies. So, avoid foods, skin care products or other items that can trigger allergies and subsequent infection.
Try to prevent cold. Cold or flu can result in several ear problems leading to infection. Therefore, limit the condition leading to infections in your baby’s ear.
A baby ear infection is the most common problem affecting children next to the common cold. It is the disorder that can leave the parents of a child concerned and confused. You need to observe the signs exhibited by your child to detect the presence of infection. If you fail to identify the problem, then you need to contact the pediatrician immediately. An infant less than four months old needs immediate medical attention to fever or other distress. While you can wait and watch for the cold or other discomforts to go away in two to three days in children younger than two years. But, it is essential to seek professional medical assistance to deal with the problem. With proper care, your baby can overcome the infection without any other issues.View Article Sources