Treating ear infections in children
Dec 02, · Many children get ear infections. The infections are usually in the middle ear behind the eardrum. They may be caused by bacteria or by a virus. Doctors often treat bacterial infections with antibiotics. Antibiotics are strong medicines that kill bacteria. Infants and some babies and children do need antibiotics. Pneumococcal vaccine protects against a common cause of middle ear infections, Streptococcus pneumonia. Clean your hands. Breastfeed exclusively until your baby is 6 months old and continue to breastfeed for at least 12 months. Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming.
If your child is rubbing his ear, should you run to the doctor's office to demand antibiotics? Probably not. Your child may simply have fluid in the ear and not the classic ear infection that parents and children dread. Over 2 million American children experience fluid in the middle ear each year, often following a cold or an acute ear infection. The condition is also called a silent ear infection because many children have no symptoms.
Some children, though, may rub their ear or experience mild pain, sleep disturbances, unexplained clumsiness, muffled hearing, or delays in language and speech development. The condition may be diagnosed during a routine well-child visit with the use of a pneumatic otoscope, which allows the doctor to see how easily the eardrum moves.
Billions of dollars are spent in the U. However, the fluid most often disappears of its own accord and does not lead to acute ear infections.
Also, antihistamines and antibiotics have little effect on the condition and do not help prevent delays in learning babiess language and speech development. According to recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the infectionw treatment middle ear fluid warrants is watchful waiting. If your child is diagnosed with this condition, the pediatrician will want to reexamine your child xo three to six months earr be sure the fluid has disappeared.
If the fluid persists longer than three months, the physician will recommend your child be tested for hearing and speech development.
If the fluid lasts for more than four months and signs of persistent how to meet men london loss are evident, the physician may recommend your child have tubes implanted into the ear to promote drainage.
Some children may need evaluation of hearing, speech, and language development sooner than others. These include children already at risk for developmental delays or difficulties because of an unrelated condition. With these children earlier intervention may be appropriate.
The classic ear infection differs from the silent ear infection because of the sudden onset of significant pain and signs of infection including redness and inflammation. This type of infection is commonly, although not specifically, associated with fever, persistent crying, a runny nose, and perhaps even eye or ear drainage. Often, a pediatrician is unable to diagnose such an infection with certainty because of the difficulty in observing the how to choose memory for laptop ear.
What is really a case of middle ear fluid may be diagnosed as an acute ear infection. Acute ear infections are the most common infection for which antibiotics are prescribed to children.
However, roughly 80 percent of children with acute ear infections get better without antibiotic treatment. In addition, studies show delaying antibiotic treatment with watchful waiting does not increase the likelihood of developing a serious illness.
If your otherwise healthy child is suffering from an acute ear infection the pediatrician will likely prescribe acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.
The doctor may also offer a prescription for an antibiotic, but only to start it if the symptoms are not improving after two to three days. To help prevent acute ear infections, breastfeed your infant for at least six months, avoid "bottle propping," and eliminate your child's exposure to secondhand smoke. Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing infectiojs access to our library of archived content.
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Treating ear infections infectons children Updated: January 23, Published: August, Children's Health Ear, nose, throat. E-mail Address. First Name Optional.
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that encourage doctors to observe and closely follow these children with ear infections that can’t be definitively diagnosed, especially those between the ages of 6 months to 2 years. If there’s no improvement within 48 to 72 hours from when symptoms began, the guidelines recommend doctors start antibiotic therapy. Jul 18, · Home remedies and other ways to treat pain and discomfort. Pain reliever. The correct dose of infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen (only give ibuprofen if your child is 6 months or older) can relieve pain. If Warm compress. Hold it gently to your child's ear to help relieve pain. Lots of fluids. Mar 20, · Identifying the Signs of Ear Infection in Babies. 1. Cold and flu-like symptoms. Ear infections can sometimes go hand in hand with a cold. Cold symptoms (everything from chills to vomiting and 2. Yellowish or whitish fluid from the ear. 3. Bad smell. 4. Tugging at their ear. 5. Fussiness.
Skip to main content. An ear infection is an inflammation of the middle ear, usually caused by bacteria, that occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Anyone can get an ear infection, but children get them more often than adults. Five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. In fact, ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor.
The scientific name for an ear infection is otitis media OM. An ear infection usually is caused by bacteria and often begins after a child has a sore throat, cold, or other upper respiratory infection. If the upper respiratory infection is bacterial, these same bacteria may spread to the middle ear; if the upper respiratory infection is caused by a virus, such as a cold, bacteria may be drawn to the microbe-friendly environment and move into the middle ear as a secondary infection.
Because of the infection, fluid builds up behind the eardrum. The ear has three major parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear, also called the pinna, includes everything we see on the outside—the curved flap of the ear leading down to the earlobe—but it also includes the ear canal, which begins at the opening to the ear and extends to the eardrum.
The eardrum is a membrane that separates the outer ear from the middle ear. The middle ear—which is where ear infections occur—is located between the eardrum and the inner ear. Within the middle ear are three tiny bones called the malleus, incus, and stapes that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. The bones of the middle ear are surrounded by air. The inner ear contains the labyrinth, which help us keep our balance.
The cochlea, a part of the labyrinth, is a snail-shaped organ that converts sound vibrations from the middle ear into electrical signals.
The auditory nerve carries these signals from the cochlea to the brain. Other nearby parts of the ear also can be involved in ear infections. The eustachian tube is a small passageway that connects the upper part of the throat to the middle ear. Its job is to supply fresh air to the middle ear, drain fluid, and keep air pressure at a steady level between the nose and the ear. Adenoids are small pads of tissue located behind the back of the nose, above the throat, and near the eustachian tubes.
Adenoids are mostly made up of immune system cells. They fight off infection by trapping bacteria that enter through the mouth.
Eustachian tubes are smaller and more level in children than they are in adults. This makes it difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear, even under normal conditions. If the eustachian tubes are swollen or blocked with mucus due to a cold or other respiratory illness, fluid may not be able to drain. This makes it harder for children to fight infections. As part of the immune system, the adenoids respond to bacteria passing through the nose and mouth. Sometimes bacteria get trapped in the adenoids, causing a chronic infection that can then pass on to the eustachian tubes and the middle ear.
Has your child had a head cold or sore throat recently? Is he having trouble sleeping? Is she pulling at her ears? If an ear infection seems likely, the simplest way for a doctor to tell is to use a lighted instrument, called an otoscope, to look at the eardrum.
A red, bulging eardrum indicates an infection. A doctor also may use a pneumatic otoscope, which blows a puff of air into the ear canal, to check for fluid behind the eardrum. A normal eardrum will move back and forth more easily than an eardrum with fluid behind it.
A tympanometer is a small, soft plug that contains a tiny microphone and speaker as well as a device that varies air pressure in the ear.
It measures how flexible the eardrum is at different pressures. Many doctors will prescribe an antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, to be taken over seven to 10 days.
Your doctor also may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or eardrops, to help with fever and pain. Using antibiotics cautiously and with good reason helps prevent the development of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics.
Stopping the medicine too soon could allow the infection to come back. Your child should start feeling better within a few days after visiting the doctor. Your child might need a different antibiotic. Once the infection clears, fluid may still remain in the middle ear but usually disappears within three to six weeks. To keep a middle ear infection from coming back, it helps to limit some of the factors that might put your child at risk, such as not being around people who smoke and not going to bed with a bottle.
In spite of these precautions, some children may continue to have middle ear infections, sometimes as many as five or six a year.
The most commonly used tubes stay in place for six to nine months and require follow-up visits until they fall out. Currently, the best way to prevent ear infections is to reduce the risk factors associated with them. Researchers sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders NIDCD are exploring many areas to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of middle ear infections.
For example, finding better ways to predict which children are at higher risk of developing an ear infection could lead to successful prevention tactics. Another area that needs exploration is why some children have more ear infections than others. For example, Native American and Hispanic children have more infections than do children in other ethnic groups.
What kinds of preventive measures could be taken to lower the risks? Doctors also are beginning to learn more about what happens in the ears of children who have recurring ear infections. They have identified colonies of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, called biofilms, that are present in the middle ears of most children with chronic ear infections. Understanding how to attack and kill these biofilms would be one way to successfully treat chronic ear infections and avoid surgery.
Creating more accurate methods to diagnose middle ear infections would help doctors prescribe more targeted treatments. Researchers also are evaluating drugs currently being used to treat ear infections, and developing new, more effective and easier ways to administer medicines. NIDCD-supported investigators continue to explore vaccines against some of the most common bacteria and viruses that cause middle ear infections, such as nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae NTHi and Moraxella catarrhalis.
One team is conducting studies on a method for delivering a possible vaccine without a needle. The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.
Use the following keywords to help you search for organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information on ear infections:. On this page: What is an ear infection? What are the symptoms of an ear infection?
How can I tell if my child has an ear infection? What causes an ear infection? Why are children more likely than adults to get ear infections? How does a doctor diagnose a middle ear infection? How is an acute middle ear infection treated? How long will it take my child to get better? What happens if my child keeps getting ear infections? Can ear infections be prevented? What research is being done on middle ear infections? Where can I find additional information about ear infections?
What is an ear infection? There are three main types of ear infections. Each has a different combination of symptoms. Acute otitis media AOM is the most common ear infection. Parts of the middle ear are infected and swollen and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum. This causes pain in the ear—commonly called an earache.
Your child might also have a fever. Otitis media with effusion OME sometimes happens after an ear infection has run its course and fluid stays trapped behind the eardrum. A child with OME may have no symptoms, but a doctor will be able to see the fluid behind the eardrum with a special instrument.
Chronic otitis media with effusion COME happens when fluid remains in the middle ear for a long time or returns over and over again, even though there is no infection. COME makes it harder for children to fight new infections and also can affect their hearing. Parts of the ear. Last Updated Date:. May 12,
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