Pediatric Ear Infection
What Causes Ear Infections?
Ear infections occur when fluid fills the space between the eardrum and the inner ear. This happens when the Eustachian tube becomes blocked thanks to a virus, bacterium, or even enlarged adenoid tissue, preventing mucus and pus from draining out of the middle ear. These fluids put pressure on the eardrum, causing pain and discomfort.
Children are especially susceptible to ear infections thanks in large part to anatomy. The structure of their Eustachian tubes, which are still developing until about the age of five, makes them prone to swelling and blockages. Children who attend daycare or school and those who are exposed to tobacco smoke are most at risk.
What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?
The first sign of an ear infection may be an increase in irritability. Some children cry inconsolably. You may notice your child pulling or tugging on the ear. In addition to a painful earache that is worse when lying down, symptoms of ear infection include fluid discharge from the affected ear, a feeling of fullness in the ear, difficulty hearing, trouble sleeping, headache, fever, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite.
An ear infection is easily diagnosed through an examination of your child’s ears with an otoscope. If the ears appear dull or red and contains pus behind the eardrum, then an ear infection is likely to blame. A hearing test may be recommended, especially if your child has had ear infections in the past.
How Are Ear Infections Treated?
Many doctors prefer to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to treating ear infections, especially with children younger than six months old, and due to update recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Pediatric Otolaryngology. This is because research shows the majority of ear infections often clear up on their own without the need for antibiotics or other aggressive forms of medical treatment.
Pain can be managed with medications like Tylenol or Motrin (be sure to avoid giving your child aspirin, which has been linked to a dangerous condition known as Reye’s syndrome) or eardrops. Use a warm washcloth pressed to the ear for comforting relief.
If the ear infection doesn’t go away on its own and is the result of a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed.
Call DeFatta ENT & Allergy at (715) 828-2368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.