What are Ear Infections?
Ear infections are common ailments affecting children.
An ear infection is a disorder caused by the accumulation of nasal secretions in the middle ear and build-up of fluid behind the eardrum. Typically, an ear infection begins after your child gets a cold and is usually caused by bacteria. Children below 3 years of age are most susceptible to ear infections.
- Earaches or ear drainage
- Bulging, swollen or reddened eardrum
- Ear tugging (your child pulling their ear)
- Trouble hearing or sleeping
- Your child crying more than usual
- Poor appetite or difficulty feeding
- Persistent irritability or restlessness
Ear infections do get better by themselves within about 3 days while hearing should improve within a few weeks. If your child has an earache but is otherwise well, you may provide the recommended dose of OTC pain relievers for a day.
Occasionally, ear infections may recur and lead to a condition called ‘glue ear’ where sticky fluid builds up affecting your child's hearing. This may result in unclear speech or behavioral problems and needs to be treated by your physician.
Putting any oil, eardrops or cotton buds into your child’s ear should be avoided unless your physician recommends you do so.
Ensure you do not smoke around your child and keep them away from other smokers. Studies show that children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk of catching a cold and cough, and thus ear infection compared to other kids.
See your physician and seek advice if your child’s cold symptoms are not relieved within 10 to 12 days, cough in 2 to 3 weeks and hearing problem by 5 to 6 weeks after the ear infection.
Children are bound to get their share of colds, coughs and ear infections when they are little, but the problems become less frequent as they grow. Take heart from the fact that these infections, in fact, help strengthen your child’s immune system down the line.