Kids develop ear infections much more frequently than adults, but the resulting pain and fussiness can cause misery for everyone in the household. The experts at Tanasbourne Pediatrics in Beaverton, Oregon can help relieve your child’s pain and share some wisdom about ways to possibly prevent future infections. Call the clinic today for an urgent appointment.
Children most often develop middle ear infections (otitis media). This occurs when viruses or bacteria find their way into the space behind your child’s eardrum, or middle ear. As the viruses or bacteria multiply and spread, the middle ear fills with pus. This causes pressure on the eardrum, which is usually quite painful.
The bacteria and viruses often build up when the tiny tubes (eustachian tubes) that drain fluid away from the middle ear into the throat become blocked or swollen and don’t function normally. Colds, throat infections, and allergies can cause swelling of the eustachian tubes. Enlarged adenoids may also block adequate drainage through the tubes.
Ear pain is the most common symptom of an ear infection. Though toddlers and older kids can tell you their ear hurts, infants may express pain by tugging at their ear, fussing, and crying more than usual. An ear infection can also cause a fever. It may also make it difficult for your child to eat or sleep because chewing, sucking, and lying down can cause pressure changes in the middle ear, which increase the pain.
Increasing fluid buildup in the middle ear can eventually rupture the eardrum. If that occurs, you may notice fluid draining from the ear. With a ruptured eardrum, your child may also complain of dizziness or nausea and notice a ringing or buzzing noise in the affected ear.
There are issues that may increase your child’s chances of developing an ear infection, such as exposure to secondhand smoke and frequent colds and sore throats. Bottle-fed babies also seem more prone to ear infections, which you can help prevent by holding your baby at an angle during feeding time.
Ear infections are not contagious, but children in daycare and classroom settings often develop more frequent colds, which might lead to more frequent ear infections. Check with your daycare provider to ensure their staff follows techniques that help prevent the spread of contagions, such as good handwashing habits.
It is admittedly difficult, however, to keep young children from sharing their personal space and their germs with one another.
Treatment depends on the severity and frequency of the infections. Your pediatrician may recommend antibiotics to clear the bacteria or eardrops to help relieve pain.