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Ear infections in children

3:24 PM, Posted by healthsensei, No Comment

Otitis media is a common type of ear infection caused by viruses or bacteria that infect the ear, usually after the child has a cold or other illness.

What Are the Signs of an Ear Infection?

Some children with ear infections are too young to tell their parents what is wrong. What are the signs of ear infection in children? The child may have trouble sleeping or cry more than usual, similar to the child with colic. However, with an ear infection, the child also has signs that point to ear involvement, such as loss of balance, trouble hearing (e.g., not responding to quiet sounds or whispered words), or fluid draining out of the ears. The child may also tug or pull at his or her ears.

What Are the Consequences?

Ear infections that continue for a sufficient period can have devastating consequences for the child’s health. Your child’s hearing occurs as a result of several complicated processes. The outer ear collects the sounds, funneling them to the eardrum. Beyond the eardrum is the middle ear, which is filled with air and contains three tiny bones that conduct the sounds from the eardrum to the inner ear. In the inner ear, sound vibrations are converted to electrical impulses that the brain can register as sounds.

For sounds to be properly heard by your child, the middle ear and inner ear must be healthy. If the middle ear fills so that fluid and mucus are trapped inside it, your child could develop hearing problems. If otitis media continues for a long period (chronic otitis media), the child may have problems speaking and developing language skills due to the impaired hearing.

How to Care for an Ear Infection

To make sure that your child does not develop serious problems, you must get your child immediately to a physician or an emergency room, for an examination by a physician or other licensed caregiver. If the cause is thought to be due to bacteria, antibiotics will be prescribed. The entire course of antibiotics must be taken, just as directed. Sometimes the child stops complaining of the pain after just a few days, and seems better. Despite this, do not stop the antibiotics early, or the infection may not be eradicated and may return. If the ear infection is due to viruses, however, antibiotics are not effective. In this case, simply follow the medical advice you are given by the child’s physician or pediatrician. Caregivers may also suggest safe analgesics, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Be sure to follow the directions given by the physician to prevent overdosing.

There are no nonprescription products or devices for ear infection or ear pain that will make it unnecessary to take your child to a physician. Products for earwax are useless, as are those for water trapped in the outer ear after swimming or bathing. Decongestants and antihistamines have no proven value and should not be used

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