Children between six months to two years are prone to ear infections. If the child cries in the middle of the night there are chances that the baby is suffering from an ear infection.
Ear Infection In Babies
Ear infections in babies is a common problem. These are caused by bacteria and virus which leads to fluid buildup in the Eustachian tube and prevents them from draining into the middle ear.1 They mostly occur when the child has a cold, sinus infection or allergies.
It is important to understand the symptoms of ear infection in babies. As babies cannot verbally communicate their feelings, knowing the signs they present during any illness can help.
- Tugging in Ear – Ear infection causes pain and discomfort, and in the attempt to alleviate the pain they pull or tug their ear. They may hit their ear as they are unable to locate or connect with the pain due to the infection.
- Discomfort in Sleeping and Lying Down – Laying down, shifts the pressure in the middle ear and this change in pressure is painful and very uncomfortable. This makes sleeping and even just lying down very painful in children.
- Ear Drainage – Fluid or pus draining out from the ear is the sure sign of an ear infection in babies. It is a sign of a ruptured eardrum and might not be experienced by all the children.
- Crying More Than Usual – Pain and pressure due to ear infection make the child very irritable and the child cries a lot. Most of the times, the parents are not able to understand the reason for the irritability and crying. But always be alert for the other symptoms, it could be an ear infection.
- Fever – Fever is a sign of the body trying to fight away the infection. A fever of 100F could also direct the diagnosis towards the ear infection.
- Difficulty in Hearing – The settling up of the fluid buildup in the middle ear makes it difficult for the child to hear properly. This is also known as temporary hearing loss due to an ear infection. The infants and toddlers who are not able to speak would become unresponsive to the sounds around them.
- Upset Stomach – The virus causing ear infection in babies also affects the gastrointestinal tract and upset the stomach. The child would experience diarrhea, vomiting, or loss of appetite. Chewing and swallowing also feel difficult during an ear infection because of the change in pressure.
- Treatment of Ear Infection – In most cases, the ear infection resolves without any treatment. The symptoms subside in a couple of days followed by complete recovery in one or two weeks. If the symptoms persist beyond this period or are difficult to bear, consult a doctor. Also, if the child displays the symptoms of ear infection consult a pediatrician, for medications to ease the discomfort.
How Can You Prevent Ear Infection in Babies?
Here are some of the most effective ways in which you can prevent ear infections in babies.2
Keep babies away from passive tobacco smoke. It is bad for their nose, lungs, ear, and also might increase the severity and frequency of ear infection.
Reduce the child’s exposure to cold in the first year of life as it is the commonest cause of ear infection in babies.
Breastfeeding of babies during 6 to 12 months of life also plays a role in preventing ear infection. Breast milk contains antibodies which help the body fight against most of the infections.
Make sure the child receives all the vaccinations recommended. The vaccinations protect the child from the common bacteria which cause an ear infection. It is advisable to discuss about flu shots and pneumococcal vaccine with the doctor and follow medical advice.
While breastfeeding hold the baby with the head higher than the stomach. Feeding the child in a horizontal position may cause the feed to flow back into the Eustachian tube (a tube which connects the back of the throat to the middle ear). The fluid then goes into the middle ear.
Check if the child snores or keeps the mouth open while sleeping. This might be due to enlarged adenoids (glands which sit on the top of the tonsil behind the nose). Large adenoids can block the Eustachian tube and lead to ear infection in babies.