Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses that get into the middle ear.
What causes an ear infection?
Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses that get into the middle ear. Children are especially vulnerable to ear infections because of their developing immune systems and eustachian tubes, thin tubes that go from the middle ear to the throat. These tubes are responsible for draining secretions in the ear and regulating air pressure in your ears.
In children, these tubes are still developing and can easily become blocked. This blockage causes fluid to build up in the middle ear, resulting in an infection.
Ear infections can also result from illnesses like the flu or a cold, which irritate and inflame the eustachian tubes.
What are the symptoms of an ear infection?
The symptoms of ear infections in children are a bit different than those of adults. Some of these symptoms include:
- Excessive crying
- Trouble sleeping
- Tugging the ear
- Trouble with balance
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble hearing
- Fluid coming from the ears
The symptoms of an ear infection look like those of other illnesses, so it’s important to seek quick medical attention, especially if the symptoms last more than a day or you see pus or blood coming from the ears.
Why does my child keep getting ear infections?
Sometimes ear infections can come back. This can be the result of allergies, the flu, a cold, or infections from a virus or bacteria. Any one of these conditions can irritate the eustachian tubes, causing reinfection. Fluids left in the ear can also leave children open to new infections.
Children with persistent or recurring ear infections must be monitored closely to ensure there are no underlying issues or hearing damage.
How are ear infections treated?
Before your child can begin treatment, they must first be diagnosed. To confirm your child’s condition, the doctor will first discuss the symptoms of your child’s condition. Next, they’ll use a stethoscope to listen to your child’s breathing and a pneumatic otoscope to check for fluid in the ears.
The first approach to treating ear infections is to allow the infection to clear up on its own. In many cases, children with mild ear infections improve in just a few days and are clear of infection in 1-2 weeks without medical treatment. Over-the-counter pain medications can be used to manage your child’s symptoms while they recover.
For more severe ear infections, especially those that cause a fever, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to help get rid of the infection.
Although most ear infections clear up on their own, they can damage the eardrum or cause hearing loss if left untreated. If you think your child has an ear infection, visit the office today or book an appointment by phone or online.