Children are more prone to ear infections than adults, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them.
Common Symptoms to Watch For
Ear infections (or acute otitis media), like any infection, lead to inflammation, resulting in the Eustachian tubes becoming swollen or blocked. When this occurs, fluid builds up in the middle ear, which can be very painful. In addition, ear infections are often chronic. When infections occur frequently, even when they aren’t acutely painful, it’s important to seek treatment.
Children are more prone to ear infections than adults, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. It’s true that ear infections do occasionally clear up on their own, but you should monitor the situation. Here are common symptoms to watch for in infants and young children:
Some symptoms—fussiness and fever—can indicate a number of conditions. It’s good to have a doctor confirm a diagnosis because children who develop multiple infections are at risk of developing serious complications, especially if the ear infections go untreated.
You should seek medical treatment if:
The symptoms don’t go away after a day
There is a discharge of fluid
The child is under 6 months old
If in doubt about whether to call us about an ear infection, please call us.
Once an ear infection is diagnosed and its severity assessed, we can recommend an appropriate course of treatment, ranging from over-the-counter pain medications to antibiotics to the insertion of tubes to drain fluid. Most parents will only need to deal with childhood ear infections, but if your child exhibits the signs of hearing loss, you should have your child evaluated by an audiologist. Special hearing tests are designed for infants as young as six months old.
The Eustachian tubes run from the middle ear to the back of the throat and regulate air pressure and drain fluids. In children, the tubes are narrow and somewhat horizontal, making them more prone to blockage.
If your child’s ear infections become chronic, he or she might need a procedure to insert tubes to address this problem. A tiny hole is made in the eardrum to suction fluid out and then a tube is placed in the opening. These tubes typically remain in the ear for six months to a year. Usually, they fall out on their own. Some tubes need to stay in longer, and they are generally removed surgically. The eardrum will close up as the tubes fall out.
You should never ignore ear infections simply because they are common in children. Baker ENT wants to protect your child’s hearing.