When my son was still in diapers, he had a nasty bout with a double ear infection. It had gotten really bad before I even noticed anything was wrong. Infant and toddler ear infection are like that, though, they seem like nothing until you’re at the doctor or emergency room trying to find a way to comfort your little one.
Why Didn’t I See It Sooner?
I couldn’t believe that my son had such a severe ear infection. The doctor said his right ear drum was at risk of rupturing. Up until the night before he had been a happy, playing kid.
Or so I thought.
The Doctor went over a list of symptoms that my son could have had, to see how long this thing had been going on:
- Grabbing tugging at the ears
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Discharge from the ears
- Unpleasant smell from the ears
- Reduced appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Extra fussy
- Fever over 102 degrees
Other than the sudden fever last night, my son hadn’t had any of these that I would have connected to an ear infection, until the doctor said something.
Sure he had been fussy, and he wasn’t sleeping well. But that was normal for my son. Isn’t it standard for infants?
He hadn’t been eating much, but he had just gone through a big cluster feeding time, and I was sure that it was just him adjusting to that.
It amazed me that all of the signs of ear infection in infants were so easy to dismiss as something else.
Infant and Toddler Ear Infection Causes
Ear infections are the 2nd most common ailment in infants and toddlers. They develop because the Eustachian tube in babies is not entirely developed.
A child’s Eustachian tube is shorter, less rigid and has less of an angle than an adult’s Eustachian tube. This means that more fluid and germs will become trapped in a child’s ear canal than in adults.
Causing a significant increase in their ear infection rates.
Additional Risk Factors
- Smoking in the house
- Large daycare settings
- Not being vaccinated
- Allowing a child to drink while lying flat
- Not taking precautions against allergens
Treating Infant and Toddler Ear Infection
Most parents want to know what they can do to help treat their child’S pain and discomfort during an ear infection. Check with your doctor first to see if any antibiotics are necessary.
Some ear infections will resolve on their own and won’t require any antibiotics.
Once you’ve seen your doctor, ask about the use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help alleviate any discomfort that your infant may be experiencing due to the infection.
When my son had a really bad infection, the doctor prescribed numbing ear drops to be used inside the ear, while treating for the infection.
→ Over the Counter
I was also warned not to use over the counter ear drops, because they can cause permanent damage if the ear drum has perforated.
With very small children, infants, and toddlers it is best to avoid over the counter medication when dealing with an ear infection. The risks are just too high!
→ Home Remedies
The best home remedy for ear infection that I remember from childhood is still recommended. Applying a hot compress to the infected ear can help alleviate some of the pain and pressure associated with the ear infection.
The only issue with a hot compress is that your child may not want to stay laying with their ear on the compress. This may be something to do right before nap time.
If your physician thinks that the ear infection is minor, he may recommend a 72-hour watch to see if it worsens.
The goal of this is to avoid antibiotics if they aren’t completely necessary. The overuse of antibiotics has become a problem in western medicine, and this may be one way to help combat this.
The goal is no antibiotics at all on a 72-hour wait, but if your child’s symptoms get worse, he spikes a fever, or becomes more agitated, take him or her back to the doctor before the time is up.
Infant and toddler earache can be hard to deal with. The key is early intervention and following doctor’s orders.
What are some of the ways you knew that your child had an ear infection?