Ear infection, also known as otitis media, is a common ailment among kids. Since young kids often cannot communicate their discomfort in words, it is easy for new parents to miss the cues that infection is present. Fortunately, there are behavioral signals and some physical symptoms to alert you to a possible ear infection in your child.
Signs of Ear Infections
The easiest way to tell if your baby or toddler has an ear infection is a change in his mood. If your baby is fussier than usual, develops a fever, or if he is recently had a cold or sinus infection, you should be on the lookout for possible infection. Other possible symptoms of ear infection include:
Causes of Ear Infections
- Pulling, grabbing or tugging at ears.
- Diarrhea. The same virus that causes ear infections can also cause diarrhea.
- Reduced appetite. When the virus causing the ear infection effects the gastrointestinal tract, upset stomach can result, thus reducing appetite. An ear infection can also make swallowing and chewing painful, which also inhibits a kid's desire to eat.
- Yellow or white fluid draining from the ear, which signals that a small hole has developed in the eardrum.
Ear infections are simply the result of a build up of fluid and bacteria in the area surrounding the eardrum. The middle ear is connected to the back of the nose and throat by the Eustachian tube. Fluid that enters the kid's ear, through bathing for example, should leave the ear via the Eustachian tube, however, this tube can become blocked when the baby has a cold, sinus infection or allergy. When the Eustachian tube is blocked, fluid and bacteria build up in the ear and an ear infection results. Babies' Eustachian tubes are short and horizontal, making them particularly susceptible to blockage and, therefore, ear infections. As babies grow to adulthood, the tube triples in length and become more vertical, so fluid can drain more easily.
Treatment of Ear Infections
Some ear infections go away on their own. If it's not a terrible infection, your doctor may just monitor it. Recent studies have shown that many infections clear up on their own without meds. If needed, your kid's doctor will prescribe antibiotics and a follow-up examination for diagnosed ear infections. If the ear infection is not successfully treated with an antibiotic, then the doctor will examine the baby for other illnesses or prescribe a different antibiotic.
For related articles, check out this page full of information about your baby's health