Ear infections aren't fun, there's no disputing that. But they don't have to be cause for panic either. These infections, also called otitis media, are unfortunately common in children. Approximately half of all infants will have at least 1 before their 1st birthday. And while they are more common for children under 2, anyone can get one. Here's what to look for, and how to respond:
Tugging on ear
Irritability (they're being fussy)
Crying that won't stop
Loss of appetite
Fluid draining from the ear
Older children better able to communicate may complain of: their ears feeling full, popping when swallowing, dizziness, ringing in their ears, or may exhibit difficulty hearing.
What to do if You think Your Child has an Ear Infection
When you bring your child to your pediatrician, they will examine their ear to see if there is an infection. If the child has acute otitis media, the provider may not prescribe an antibiotic, as minor ear infections frequently resolve on their own. In these cases, Tylenol or Motrin may be recommended to alleviate some of the symptoms. If your child has a more severe case, then antibiotics can be prescribed. If the provider does prescribe something, make sure to finish the prescription, even in the child seems to be doing better before it ends.
Help Prevent Ear Infections
Breast feeding infants until at least 6 months old can help lessen the chance of ear infections.
Keep your child away from tobacco smoke.
Always hold your infant's head up when feeding. Do not let babies feed while flat.
Make sure your child is up to date on immunizations.
As with any illness, there is a chance for complications. Monitor your child's symptoms, and if you notice no improvement, or the worsening of symptoms, contact your child's primary care provider.
There is a procedure that places tubes in the patient's ears; whether or not this is an appropriate course of action depends on the patient's medical history and circumstances. Ask the provider for their opinion, and to discuss the risks and benefits of this option.