Talkeetna: (907) 733-2273 ~ Willow: (907) 495-4100 ~ Wasilla: (907) 376-2273

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How to Tell if Your Child has an Ear Infection and What To Do

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Ear infections in children are more prevalent than you think. But, most ear infections when caught early, are not serious. Here’s how you can tell if your child has an ear infection.

If your child cannot say “My ear/s hurt,” then these are the symptoms you should watch out for:

– fever
– tugging or pulling ear/s
– experiencing pain when sucking, chewing, or pain when laying down
– difficulty in sleeping
– having trouble with balance
– difficulty in hearing

What causes an ear infection?

Ear infections may be caused by bacteria or viruses that typically begin after a child experiences upper respiratory infections like a cold or a sore throat.

Infections in the upper respiratory tract can spread to the middle ear as a secondary infection. When an infection occurs, fluid builds up behind the eardrum, which can be very painful.

Children have a higher chance of developing ear infections than adults. A child’s eustachian tubes- the tube responsible for aerating the middle ear and draining mucus to the nasopharynx cavity are much smaller than in adults. The smaller size makes it difficult for fluid to drain out even in normal conditions. More so, if the eustachian tubes are swollen or blocked due to a cold, cough, or other upper respiratory illnesses, the fluid may not be able to drain.

Other causes of ear infections are bacteria trapped in the adenoids, passing through the eustachian tube to the middle ear.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A child’s immunity plays a vital role when it comes to ear infections. Your medical provider may ask you about your child’s health, do a physical exam, and check the ear. A special tool is used to check the eardrum.

Your child may be prescribed antibiotics which should be taken over the course of seven to ten days, and pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Make sure your child takes the medications precisely as instructed over the total amount of time to clear the infection completely. Terminating medications too soon may cause a reoccurrence of the condition and may also put your child at risk for antibiotic tolerance. Follow doctor’s orders on follow-up visits to make sure the infection is gone.

How to prevent ear infections?

Ear infections are inevitable, but you can take some measures to prevent them. Here’s how:

– Get vaccinated. Ensure the likelihood of getting sick, make sure your child is fully vaccinated, and don’t forget the yearly flu vaccine!

– Encourage good hygiene. Frequent handwashing prevents the spread of disease, so make it a habit for your child to wash their hands as often as needed and avoid touching their eyes and face.

– Don’t let your child sleep with a bottle, even if it is only for a nap. When babies drink from a bottle while on their backs, liquid often pools in their mouth making it easier for liquid to flow into the middle ear and contribute to ear infections.

– Avoid exposing your child to secondhand smoke. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at a higher risk for ear infections.

– Limit your child’s exposure to sick children.

When should I call for a doctor?

Ear infections may affect your child’s hearing temporarily; however, very rarely, it can get worse and may lead to complications. Therefore, if your child is not getting any better after a few days of treatment, don’t hesitate to see your family medical provider.

Other things like teething, obstruction in the ear, a foreign object, or hard earwax may also be a reason for an earache. Your medical provider can find the cause of discomfort and treat it.

 

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