Babies are prone to ear infections due to the simple fact that the tubes inside their ears are shorter and so more easily blocked, trapping fluid and creating the ideal place for infection to develop. An ear infection can be very uncomfortable for your baby; they may develop a fever and the pain may be severe. They key is in recognizing the signs and symptoms and acting quickly to fight infection and get your baby back to their usual happy self. To avoid future ear infections, practice good hand hygiene, make sure your baby has all their immunisations and avoid smoky environments.
Signs of an Ear Infection
There are a range of signs you can look out for that may indicate that your baby has an ear infection, some common symptoms include;
? Many ear infections occur after a cold or flu, so if your baby has been unwell and then develops new symptoms, an ear infection is a likely cause.
? A high temperature, or fever, can be a sign of an ear infection. Most ear infections do cause a high temperature.
? Baby may pull or poke at their ears. Some babies do this a lot anyway, so if there are no other signs of infection, don?t worry about this on its own; but if your baby has other signs of infection and is pulling their ears then an ear infection is a likely cause.
? Keep an eye out for fluid coming from the ear. This may look like thin wax or it may be a white colour; this doesn?t accompany all ear infections but it is a very clear sign that the ear is infected. There may also be a smell from the ear.
? Gastrointestinal symptoms; it may seem strange, but an ear infection can also cause vomiting and even diarrhoea in children.
? Baby wanting to sit up. Sometimes lying down makes the pain worse and baby will cry when you lie them down; this could be because of the pain or because they want to be held and comforted.
? Refusing food ? an ear infection can cause pain in the throat as well as the ear and so baby may not want to feed. Other reasons baby may turn down food may be related to gastrointestinal symptoms too.
? Distressed, fretful babies are often suffering from ear infections; if your baby seems otherwise well but is excessively clingy, upset or crying then it might be a good idea to have them checked out by a doctor who can tell you if they have an ear infection.
If your baby has any of these symptoms and you suspect they may have an ear infection, then your doctor can diagnose the cause of the problem. They will check your baby over and look in their ears and throat for signs of infection.
Treatment for Ear Infections
Depending on what your doctor can see in the ears and your child’s symptoms, they will decide on whether to proceed with an antibiotic or whether to wait and see how your child is in a few days. You will also be advised on pain relief or prescribed medicine for pain such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Whether you are given an antibiotic or not, if your child has not improved within a few days you should return to the doctor for a check-up to make sure another antibiotic is not required. Babies should respond quickly to an antibiotic, this is great but it doesn’t mean you should stop giving it. Always finish the course of medication unless otherwise advised by your doctor.