Babies and Ear Infections
Babies can be fussy for a number of reasons. One reason is that their ears are hurting them. This could signify that an ear infection is in progress. Here is some helpful information on ear infections and what to do if your baby shows the signs.
An ear infection is not uncommon in babies. It occurs when there is a build-up of fluid behind the ear drum, or tympanic membrane. In that same area are the Eustachian tubes which are there to drain fluid and maintain our balance. But, sometimes these tubes can get blocked after a cold or an infection in the sinuses.
What are the signs of an ear infection? Well, babies can’t tell you what is happening to them so they cry, but this cry is often accompanied by other behaviors. You may notice that your baby pulls at their ears, leaving them red. Other signs include drainage from the ear, frequent diarrhea, fever and lack of appetite. If you notice these things happening after they have just gotten over a cold, it could be the final piece of the puzzle.
It is time to visit the doctor. Infections of the middle ear can go from bad to worse if left untreated. The pediatrician will examine your child’s ears and may refer you to an otolaryngologist. This doctor specializes in matters of the ears, nose and throat. They can prescribe a more detailed course of action for you and your baby.
The first thing that the doctor will do is look again with an otoscope. They may prescribe antibiotic drops to try and reduce the infection and drain the fluid naturally through the Eustachian tubes. For the pain, he may prescribe ibuprofen. Since babies like to squirm, lay them on their sides when administering the drops so they all get into the ear canal.
If the symptoms don’t subside, he will want to see you back. Sometimes frequent ear infections may require a surgical procedure called a myringotomy. The doctor makes an incision into the ear drum and inserts a tympanostomy tube to help the fluid drain away. Through the tube, drops can be administered and the bacteria can be washed away resolving the infection.
It is not uncommon for babies and young children to have many ear infections. They are around many other children in daycare and play centers. This exposes them to a greater amount of germs than they would encounter inside their home. Keep your child up on their immunizations to reduce the frequency of infections and illnesses they catch.
Breastfeeding your child also increases their immunity. Doctors recommend breastfeeding for at least six months for your baby to get the immunological boost.
If your child has the signs of an ear infection, get them to a doctor right away. Untreated, ear infections can affect their hearing.