Ear Infections in Children

October 10, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Having kids comes with certain joys — such as when they say their first words, take their first steps, or do something that absolutely melts your heart. But it also comes with a lot of responsibilities and sleepless nights — especially if your child is suffering from an ear infection. Why, exactly, do they happen? What are the symptoms? How is the condition treated? And is there anything you can do to prevent them from happening again?

What are ear infections?

An ear infection (also known as otitis media) is an infection of the space behind the eardrums. The condition causes fluid buildup as well as inflammation — and both conditions, together, are very painful. They usually clear up on their own. However, having chronic ear infections could lead to permanent damage to the ear and hearing problems. Although they can occur at any age, ear infections occur most commonly in children. This is due to the fact that young children have shorter and narrower ear canals. They are also more likely to occur in children under three years of age, since they don’t have a strong immune system yet.

Causes of Ear Infections in Children

There are several factors that could cause ear infections. The most common ones include:

  • Excess mucus
  • Sinus infections
  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Using a pacifier
  • Recent illness
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Altitude changes

Symptoms of Ear Infections in Children

The symptoms of an ear infection can be felt in one or both ears. It’s also common for them to come and go. These include:

  • Pain or pressure in the ears
  • Fluid draining from the ears
  • Fussiness in children
  • Lots of crying for no apparent reason in babies and infants
  • Fever
  • Balance issues when trying to walk or sit up straight
  • Hearing difficulties
  • Tugging at the ears
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If your child is younger than six months of age, seek medical attention immediately — especially if they have a fever higher than 102 F. It is also possible for an infant to be experiencing an ear infection without having a fever, so do pay attention to the rest of the signs and symptoms.

Treatment of Ear Infections in Children

Although the majority of ear infections go away on their own within 72 hours, your child’s pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics — especially if you have a baby. This helps prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body.

If your child is older than two years of age, the pediatrician will likely suggest to wait and see if the infection clears on its own. While you wait, keep your child hydrated and make sure they get more rest and sleeping time than usual. If your child is in pain, the doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers. If the symptoms don’t improve within two or three days, the pediatrician will then prescribe antibiotics — which your child will have to take over seven to 10 days.

Preventing Ear Infections in Children

There are several simple things you can do to reduce the risk of ear infections in children. These include:

  • Breastfeeding your baby — this provides them with antibodies
  • If you’re bottle-feeding your baby, avoid putting them down to sleep while holding a bottle
  • Washing your hands and your child’s hands regularly
  • Drying ears thoroughly after a bath or after swimming
  • Vaccinating your child against the flu every year
  • Limiting or avoiding exposure to other sick children
  • Keeping your child away from secondhand smoke

In rare instances, if ear infections keep coming back or do not clear up with antibiotics, the pediatrician may recommend surgery to improve airflow in the eardrums.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.