Ear infections are no fun. Do you remember when you used to get them when you were a child? We’re now at the time of year when the common cold and other ailments become the norm for many people. It’s cold and flu season once again, and one of the most common health issues children experience this time of year is ear infections. After the common cold, ear infections are the second-most common illness in kids.
If you have kids, it’s highly likely your child will get an ear infection at one time or another, especially if your child is three years old or younger. While they commonly occur along with a cold and are usually not serious in nature, they can be very uncomfortable.
Ear infections are commonly caused by bacterial or viral development in the middle ear, usually when the pathogens travel to the back of the throat.
Some kids are at higher risk of getting an ear infection than others. Children who go to daycare, have allergies, are exposed to smokers, have a cleft palate, or who were born prematurely have a higher risk of getting infections.
Signs of an ear infection
There are a number of signs that will help you identify if your child has an ear infection. Children who are old enough will probably tell you that they have an earache, but younger children may not.
Here are the common signs of an ear infection:
- Fussiness and restlessness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Touching or pulling on ears
- Minor hearing issues
- Fluid draining from ears.
It’s important to note that not all earaches are infections. Some earaches can be caused by other issues, such as clogged ears or even tooth pain. With a little rest, your child should start to feel better in a day or so.
So, when should you call the doctor? If symptoms do not improve within 24 hours or other symptoms develop, then it’s time to go to the doctor. If the earache persists for longer than two days or if your child experiences irritability, vomiting, a skin rash, or increased pain, additional treatment may be required.
Prevention and treatment of infection
While ibuprofen can help eliminate minor earaches, antibiotics may be required for more severe cases.
Preventative measures are the key to reducing the chance of your kids getting an ear infection, especially if they are prone to getting one or two each year. Here is what you can do:
- Wash your hands and your child’s hands regularly
- Breastfeed your baby
- Make sure your child receives the recommended immunizations
- Avoid smoking around your children
- If possible, take your child to a smaller daycare with fewer children
- Get the flu shot each year.
Prevention and proper treatment is the key to helping your kids overcome earaches and ear infections during this time of year.