Ear infection is quiet common amongst babies. Though there are many different types of ear infections, but the most common among them is otitis media, characterized by infection and inflammation of middle ear, which is located behind the ear drum.
What Causes Ear Infection?
Generally ear infection is caused by bacteria, but it can sometimes cause by virus as well. Ears get infected when Eustachian tube that connects the middle ear to the back of throat and nose becomes blocked and fluid builds up in it. Normally, Eustachian tube drains fluid pretty quickly. But if Eustachian tube is blocked due to cold or sinus infection, allergies, production of excess saliva or mucus during teething or any other reason like tobacco smoke or irritants, it traps fluid instead of draining in the middle ear, leading to infection.
As we know, germs grow in dark, wet and warm places; so the middle ear which is clogged with fluid gets easily infected. The condition worsens with pain and inflammation. The baby may develop fever as the body tries to fight the infection. Babies are more susceptible to ear infection because the size of their Eustachian tubes are quiet short and horizontal. The fluid is unable to drain easily. But as they grow older, the tube becomes vertical and grows thrice in length, enabling the fluids to drain out easily.
How do I know that My Baby has an Ear Infection?
Inconsolable crying, irritability, fever or trouble sleeping can be the sign of ear infection. Following symptoms can be noticed:
• Your baby frequently pulls, tugs or grabs his/her ear. But tugging of ear is not always the sign because often babies pull their ear without any reason.
• Reduced appetite
• Drainage of whitish or yellow fluid from the ear and foul smell coming from the ear.
Treatment for Ear Infection
When your baby shows some of the above mentioned symptoms, take your baby to the clinic so that doctor can called otoscope. Some ear infections safely clear up on their own without antibiotics. But for babies, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. They also recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen for relieving the baby from pain. Make sure to give entire dose of antibiotic even if the child’s symptoms improve. Also visit your doctor for a re-check of ear after the completion of prescribed dose.
How Can I Prevent Repeated Ear Infection of My Baby?
Babies become more prone to ear infection when they are frequently exposed to germs. So, it is necessary to protect your baby from certain illness that often leads to ear infection. Following preventive measure can be taken:
• Always wash your as well as your baby’s hands and toys.
• Keep your baby’s vaccine schedule up-to-date. Sometimes doctors suggest flu shots and pneumococcal vaccine.
• Breastfeed your baby at least up to six months. Research suggests that breastfed children are less likely to suffer from ear infection than formula-feed babies.
• Take care that your baby is not exposed to tobacco smoke. It can suppress baby’s immune system and develop the chances of getting ear infection. With weak immune system, it becomes more difficult for the baby to fight infection.
• Try to minimize the chances of your baby catching a cold.
Can Ear Infection Develop Complications?
A serious or untreated infection can do significant harm to your baby’s eardrum. Generally ear infection heals quickly. But you should always take your baby to the doctor for a follow-up to make sure that the infection has cleared completely. Repeated ear infection can lead to hearing loss, and sometimes in more severe cases it can lead to meningitis or mastoiditis. If ear infection persists after medical treatment, doctor may suggest surgery.