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Ear Infection In Babies

5 min read

Ear infection in baby
Your child has cold and you notice that he/she is unusually fussy, cranky and irritable. It might just be the side effects of the cold, or he/she might be getting an ear infection. Ear infections are painful, especially in babies as they cannot tell you that their ears hurt. So it is important to catch the symptoms early on, identify the infection, and help your child deal with the pain and recover.

What Is An Ear Infection?

Medically referred to as Otitis media, ear infection is said to occur when the middle ear gets painfully inflamed. Most of these ear infections occur in the Eustachian tube, which gets swollen and one can notice inflammation. This tube also connects the nose, ears and the throat and the fluid that builds behind the eardrums causes pressure and pain. Ear infections are generally occur after a cold, so bacteria and virus can be blamed. Ear infections in babies are quite common, with 5 out of every 6 babies getting it before they celebrate their 3rd birthday, quotes https://www.healthline.com.

What Are The Symptoms Of An Ear Infection In Babies?

Ear infection in children is quite common, especially under the age of 1 year. A change in your baby’s mood is perhaps the first indication that something is wrong with your baby, and hence it should never be taken lightly. Some of the ways you can tell if your child has an ear infection are:

  • Your child develops a fever
  • Your child turns very fussy and cries frequently after a catching a cold
  • Your child is tugging at his/her ear and it is evident he/she is in pain (they might tug at ear without reason too)
  • Your child might develop gastrointestinal tract infections which can result in vomiting and diarrhea
  • Your child might find it difficult to swallow/chew, which will present itself as reduced appetite. Your baby might pull away from the breast or a bottle
  • If you suspect ear infection, you can smell your babies ears – infections usually lead to unpleasant smell. There might even be some yellowish or whitish discharge from the ear
  • Your child might be having difficulty sleeping, as lying down makes it more painful

What Causes Ear Infection In Babies?

Ear infections are usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection that occur behind your child’s ear drum. Now in usual cases, when fluids enter the area behind the ear drum, it is quickly drained out through the eustachian tube. Eustachian tube is a narrow passage that connects middle ear to pharynx (back of nose and throat). However, if your baby has cold or a sinus infection, then the eustachian tube might be blocked, causing the fluid to build up behind the ear drum, making it a perfect ground for infections! Your little baby’s ear becomes the breeding place for germs – owing to the area being warm, moist and dark. As the infection spreads, it causes the area to be inflamed, leading to distress and pain in babies.

Why Are Babies Prone To Ear Infections?

Children are more prone to ear infections than adults because their eustachian tubes are shorter, just (about 1/2 inch in length) and horizontal. Adults have vertical eustachian tubes about three times larger than babies and is also more vertical thus enabling quicker draining of any fluids that gets in the ears.

How Can Ear Infection In Babies Diagnosed?

If you notice any sign of infection, it is advisable you take your child to the doctor right away. The doctor will use an otoscope to look inside the baby’s ear to detect an infection. If he sees a red, swollen ear drum, it’s a sign of infection. To confirm the diagnosis, he might use a pneumatic otoscope, which causes eardrum movement in an uninfected ear. If he sees that ear drum does not move in response to this device, then he will confirm that your baby has ear infection.
Ear infection

Treatment For Ear Infection in Babies

Most ear infections go off on their own. But depending on the severity of the infection, your child’s doctor might prescribe painkillers or antibiotics. However, it is recommended to wait for 48-72 hours before prescribing antibiotics. Antibiotics may also make a child develop diarrhea and vomiting, hence should be only administered if medically suggested. There are also multiple home remedies that you can try if you do not want to follow allopathic medicine.

  • Painkillers for ear infections: If the infection is minor, but causing considerable distress in your child, then the doctor might prescribe a pain killer like ibuprofen to relive pain, provided your child is at least 6 months of age
  • Antibiotics for ear infections: Doctors are more careful about prescribing antibiotics to babies as it increases the risk of them developing antibiotic-resistant infections. However, if your child’ infection is severe, or if he/she is getting repeatedly infected, then the doctor might prescribe antibiotics (like Amoxicillin), which you need to ensure your child takes for the full-course
  • Home remedies for ear infections: There are many things you can do at home to relieve the pain of the infection and even to cure it. Some of these are:
    • Giving your baby a moist warm compress on the infected ear
    • Placing a boiled garlic on the ear (not inside the canal) and securing it in place with a cotton wool and duct tape. Garlic can draw out the infection
    • Breastfeeding your child
    • Giving your baby a steam with lavender and eucalyptus oil

How Can I Prevent Ear Infection In My Baby?

Although mostly it is inconvenient and painful but not harmful, ear infections can sometimes be very serious, especially when it leads to eardrum rupturing. In fact repeated ear infections can cause permanent scarring in inner ear and result in hearing loss. Prevention is any day better than cure! So it is good to know few tips that can help in preventing ear infections:

  • Since it is cold/sinus infection that leads to ear infections, one of the best way to prevent it is to prevent your child catching a cold! Keep him/her away from infected people. Wash your child’s hands (and feet if he/she sucks on them!) often and have all the adults around your baby use a hand sanitizer religiously
  • Vaccines can prevent many diseases that will lead to ear infections. So keeping your child’s vaccinations up-to-date is another great way to prevent ear infections. Some of the vaccines that are helpful are: Hib vaccine, flu vaccine and pneumonococcal vaccine
  • Children who are breastfed until 6 months are more immune to catching infections. So breastfeeding your child is another way to prevent ear infections.
  • Research indicates that if babies are exposed to cigarette smoke, then they are more likely to catch ear infections that lead to hearing loss. So keeping your baby away from the cigarette smoke is essential, not just to prevent ear infections, but also for overall health

Happy parenting!

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