Adults and children can get ear infections from bacteria or viruses like the common cold. They’re very common and treatable. But, what can you do if your child is too young to tell you their ear hurts? Dr. Vandana Kumra of ENT New York offers this advice to parents.
What to watch for
Most likely, you already keep a close eye on your children. If you notice anything different in their behavior, they may be trying to tell you they don’t feel well or something hurts. Here are some clues your child may have an ear infection:
- Fussy or crying more than normal
- Trouble sleeping
- A fever
- Pulling or tugging on their ear(s)
- Fluid or discharge from the ear(s)
- Can’t keep their balance
- Trouble hearing or less responsive than normal
Why do children get ear infections more often than adults?
Ear infections are more common in children for a few reasons. They’re young, so their immune systems are still developing. Their immune systems will grow stronger over time as they get exposed to new viruses and bacteria.
Also, the eustachian tubes are smaller in children. These tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the throat. It’s easier for them to become blocked by mucous from a cold or other infection. As a result, fluid may not be able to drain out of their ears properly.
What can parents do?
Watch for signs of an ear infection and get your child to a doctor if symptoms don’t go away or get worse. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent ear infections:
- Breastfeed for 6 to 12 months if you can to boost your child’s immune system
- Limit your child’s exposure to second-hand smoke
- Wash your hands often to prevent the spread of infection
- Keep your child up-to-date on all immunizations
Ear infection treatment
Your child’s doctor may recommend waiting a few days to see if the ear infection goes away on its own. Make sure they rest and drink extra fluids, and check their temperature to make sure they don't have a fever. Your doctor may also suggest over-the-counter pain relievers for children. If the ear infection doesn’t clear up, your child may need antibiotics.
How we can help
If your child has chronic ear infections, they may need special tubes in their ears to help drain the fluid. Other times, surgery to remove the adenoids may help.
Find out how we can help by making an appointment with Dr. Kumra today. Use our online booking tool or call 646-859-6136.