Ear infections are one of the more common health problems for children visiting a pediatrician’s office. Parents constantly worry about it. What causes this condition? How do parents know their child is suffering from one? Here we’ll discuss about the Ear Infections Symptoms, and their types and ear infection treatment.
An ear infection is basically an inflammation of the middle portion, the part responsible for transmitting sounds from the eardrum to the inner ear. With the help of the Eustachian tubes, the middle section secretes a fluid which drains to the back of the throat. If this fluid does not drain, it accumulates in the middle ear and serves as a breeding ground for bacteria. This eventually causes an infection.
What Are The Common Ear Infection Symptoms?
Many times, parents may find it difficult to identify the symptoms. It often begins with a cold or flu. A child may experience a running nose or cough, followed by fever. This leads the child to become cranky as they constantly touch the ear in a bid to ease the discomfort.
The child will also experience:
- An unpleasant smell coming out from your child’s ear
- No appetite
- Inability to hear
- Trouble falling asleep
- A whitish/yellowish fluid
Why Are Children More Affected By Ear Infections?
Immature Immune System:
A child’s immune system is not as developed as an adult. This makes it harder for children to fight off harmful viruses, bacteria and infections.
Smaller Eustachian Tubes:
The Eustachian tubes of children are smaller and more level. It becomes difficult for fluids to drain out of the ear, even when they function normally. When the tubes are blocked/swollen with mucus, it becomes all the more difficult for the fluid to drain out completely.
Trapping of Bacteria in the Adenoids: Adenoids help to fight off infections by trapping bacteria entering through the mouth. When bacteria get trapped in the adenoids, it causes infection which passes to the middle ear.
Types of Ear Infections
The most common type of ear infection, otitis media, causes the auditory tube to become blocked and the tissues inside the ear to become inflamed. The infection often originates with a cold but can also be caused by exposure to second-hand smoke, as well as being exposure to other children with colds and potential secondary ear infections. Some children will have more of this kind of infection than others, and there is actually a genetic reason for that. The auditory tube in some children does not develop as quickly as it does in others, and can be incapable of draining all of the debris and fluid that builds up in the ear.
The other type of ear infection that can occur in children and young adults is otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear. This is caused by a bacterial infection of the outer ear, and can be mostly prevented by the use of ear plugs when swimming. Improper drying of the ear, with either towels or Q-tips will also cause bacteria to be introduced to the outer ear, leading to an infection. It is usually recommended that the ear be dried with a blow dryer, on its lowest setting, and not blown directly into the ear itself.
Ear Infection Symptoms:
The symptoms of an ear infection can vary from child to child and even young adults may show signs of having inner or middle ear problems, especially after recovering from a severe cold. The usual symptoms that will present themselves for this kind of infection are as follows:
Pulling on the Ear:
This could indicate that your child is feeling pressure or itching inside of their ear; pulling on the ear is their way of trying to relieve the pain on their own.
Children, especially very young children, cannot always communicate the pain they are feeling, so they cry. Crying is also a sign of sleep-deprivation, caused by the pain from the infection during the night.
The pressure caused by the inflammation of the tissues inside the ear can cause your child to lose sleep. You can ease it somewhat, even while it is being treated by your pediatrician by making sure that your child sleeps on the same side the infection is on. Gravity will help to drain it quicker if that side is facing down when the child is sleeping. Sleeping on the opposite side will cause pressure to build up, increasing the pain. Contact Pediatrics Partner today if you require immediate assistance regarding ear infections. The clinic boasts highly experienced pediatricians and world-class treatment facilities for kids. Also check out our new Blog Post on Ear Infections.
Can I treat an ear infection at home?
You can treat some outer and middle ear infections at home with remedies and over-the-counter medication for symptoms like pain and inflammation.
Swimmer’s ear (outer ear infection) home treatment
Usually, prolonged and recurrent immersion in water causes outer ear infections. The primary treatment for swimmer’s ear is to avoid getting water in the ear canal until the ear pain is gone.
An outer ear infection may take several days to heal, but the pain usually is gone within one week. Moreover, the warmer the water, the higher the likelihood of getting swimmer’s ear, for example, people who swim in the summer are more likely to develop an outer ear infection than wintertime surfers.
Middle Ear Infection Home Treatment
Numerous studies have shown that viruses cause middle ear infections. Pain management for ear pain for two or three days will allow the body’s natural immune system to fight and cure the infection, much like the common cold. However, some people with middle ear infections may need to see a doctor or other health-care professional for medical treatment.
Inner Ear Infection and Labyrinthitis Home Treatment
Inner ear infections and labyrinthitis (inner ear inflammation adults and children are very rare, moreover, the symptoms of inner ear infections may be associated with other non-infectious causes, otolaryngologists (doctors that specialize in ear, nose problems) usually treat inner ear infections in adults and children.