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Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses children experience in the United States. Ear infections can stem from a virus or bacteria which cause the ear to fill with fluid behind the eardrum. Babies are more prone to ear infections than older children because they have a shorter Eustachian tube which sits as a more horizontal angle.
Boys are more likely to get ear infections than girls, and there is some indication that there is a hereditary link which increases this risk. Bottle-fed babies are also more likely to get ear infections because they are not getting the immune support that breast milk provides. Some have found that sucking on a pacifier can pull moisture from the throat and nose which can increase the risk of ear infections. When your child has developed an ear infection, there are some things you can do to ease their pain, though ultimately they will need medical treatment to rid their body of the infection.
Cold medication will not help manage an ear infection, but acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help to ease discomfort. Children over 2 can sleep with a pillow and younger children can be held or kept upright in their car seat as this will make it easier for the ear to drain. If your child does not have discharge coming from their ear, take a dropper and place 2-3 drops of olive or sesame oil at room temperature into the ear to help release fluid. If your child has an infection, they will need antibiotics to clear it, though some doctors now recommend that you try to allow the infection to clear on its own first. In most cases, your child will see improvement after 2-3 days of treatment, but some children are prone to regular infections.
Just as with all other aspects of human biology, there is a broad range of Eustachian tube function in children- some children get lots of ear infections, some get none. Allergies are common in children, but there is not much evidence to suggest that they are a cause of either ear infections or middle ear fluid. Ear infections are not contagious, but are often associated with upper respiratory tract infections (such as colds).
Acute otitis media (middle ear infection) means that the space behind the eardrum - the middle ear - is full of infected fluid (pus). Any time the ear is filled with fluid (infected or clean), there will be a temporary hearing loss.
The poor ventilation of the middle ear by the immature Eustachian tube can cause fluid to accumulate behind the eardrum, as described above. Ear wax (cerumen) is a normal bodily secretion, which protects the ear canal skin from infections like swimmer's ear. Ear wax rarely causes hearing loss by itself, especially if it has not been packed in with a cotton tipped applicator. In the past, one approach to recurrent ear infections was prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics.
For children who have more than 5 or 6 ear infections in a year, many ENT doctors recommend placement of ear tubes (see below) to reduce the need for antibiotics, and prevent the temporary hearing loss and ear pain that goes along with infections. For children who have persistent middle ear fluid for more than a few months, most ENT doctors will recommend ear tubes (see below).
It is important to remember that the tube does not "fix" the underlying problem (immature Eustachian tube function and poor ear ventilation).
Adenoidectomy adds a small amount of time and risk to the surgery, and like all operations, should not be done unless there is a good reason.


In this case, though, the ventilation tube serves to drain the infected fluid out of the ear. The most common problem after tube placement is persistent drainage of liquid from the ear. In rare cases, the hole in the eardrum will not close as expected after the tube comes out (persistent perforation). I see my patients with tubes around 3 weeks after surgery, and then every three months until the tubes fall out and the ears are fully healed and healthy. If a child has a draining ear for more than 3-4 days, I ask that he or she be brought into the office for an examination. Once the tube is out and the hole in the eardrum has closed, the child is once again dependant on his or her own natural ear ventilation to prevent ear infections and the accumulation of fluid.
About 10-15% of children will need a second set of tubes, and a smaller number will need a third set. Children who have ear tubes in place and who swim more than a foot or so under water should wear ear plugs. Deep diving (more than 3-4 feet underwater) should not be done even with ear plugs while pressure equalizing tubes are in place.
Your doctor would first examine the infected site to ensure that it has not caused any complications further. Indeed, when it comes to ear infection symptoms in infants, adults or parents will have a hard time confirming it. Other infants manifest the symptoms of ear infection and ear popping through their gestures that suggest that they are bothered with their ears because they have the tendency to pull on them.
These are just some of the most common ear infection symptoms that people often complain about. Known medically as otitis media, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders notes that three of four children will have at least one infection by the time they reach age three.
Children may tell you their ears hurt, and those who cannot talk yet may tug at their ear or seem excessively cranky. This is a less common symptom which may indicate that your child has a hole in their eardrum (this will heal after the infection is managed). In most cases, fluid will enter and leave the ear through the Eustachian tube at the middle ear, draining down the back of the nose to the throat. As children grow, their Eustachian tube takes on a more vertical shape and triples in size which makes drainage easier.
Children that regularly play indoors with other children are exposed to more germs which will lead to more infections over time.
If your child has pus coming from their ear, tuck a cotton ball into the external ear to absorb it. Give your child plenty of fluids or give older children a piece of sugarless gum that will help to naturally promote swallowing. Over-prescribing medication can create drug-resistant bacteria that will be harder to treat over time. If your child has had an infection for over three months, your doctor may want to insert tympanostomy tubes to help the middle ear drain more effectively. It is better to check the ears daily for infection, swelling and discharge of fluid to assure that the pierced ears are in good condition. In most cases, adults will already notice the ear infection symptoms even before they would submit themselves to the care of a doctor or ear specialist.


Unlike the ear infection symptoms in adults, it takes a really experienced parent to surmise a problem about ear infection but in most cases, they are often left unnoticed if parents are used to hearing the cries of an infant and especially if there are no signs of infection such as fever. This may be harder to identify, though, if the baby is used to playing with his or her ears quite a lot or if there is no sign of fluid coming from the baby’s ears.
In some cases, adults will also experience the feeling of being dizzy when they have ear infection.
The earlier these symptoms are noticed, the easier it is for ear specialists to treat the ear problem. There are a wide variety of symptoms that can be associated with this condition, so knowing the signs of ear infection in toddler is important to give your child the medical attention they need. This is a quick process, but a blockage in this tube, which is a common side effect of a cold, allergies or sinus infection, can cause this fluid to back up.
In 85 percent of cases fluid in the ears will clear on its own, but if your child’s condition gets worse, it is recommended that they are given an antibiotic. It is good to wipe off the ears with mild alcohol daily to avoid any infection on the ears. Sometimes the skin has to be peeled away for removing severe infection on the piercing site. However, when it comes to infant ear infection symptoms, first-time parents hardly recognize them because of the fact that babies or infants cannot clearly express themselves. According to medical experts, ear infection is often associated with contracting colds and respiratory illnesses. The earlier the treatment of ear infection is done, the lesser are the chances and risks of permanently damaging one’s ear or hearing. Because germs flourish in moist, dark, warm places, a fluid-filled ear is the perfect breeding ground for an infection. Give this medication according to the instructions to ensure that all of the bacteria are killed or the infection may come back. You should consider this option carefully because your child will need to be given general anesthesia to have these tubes inserted.
In case of infection, the initial symptom would be foul smell emanating from the infected ears followed by irritation and swelling.
When the infection is not treated for long time, it may affect the surrounding tissue and can cause damage to the ear.
When the baby’s health and disposition is frequently bothered by colds, and when a parent can sense pain from the cries of the baby, it is time to visit the pediatrician.
As an infection takes hold, the area behind the eardrum will become inflamed which causes pain. In 80 percent of cases, this will increase air circulation to the middle ear which can help to reduce the accumulation of fluid.
There may be crusty leakage of fluid from the affected part of the ear which is a sign of infection. Tubes will usually fall out in 9-15 months, but if they do not, they will have to be removed by your doctor. The pediatrician will do the necessary checks and should be able to identify the signs of ear infection or perforated eardrum.



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