Common Causes of Ear Infections in Children
Ear infections are a prevalent worry for parents and caregivers in children’s health.
These infections can cause pain, disrupt daily life, and raise concerns. However, understanding the primary causes of ear infections in children is the initial step in preventing and addressing them.
In this blog, we will delve into the key factors causing ear infections in children along with the treatment.
What You Need to Know About Ear Infections in Children?
Ear infections often occur following a viral illness like a cold, flu, or bacterial infection. Bacteria enter the middle ear, leading to inflammation, infection, and discomfort.
Ear infections in babies and toddlers are prevalent because their ear structures are less mature than those in adults.
Typically, ear infections resolve on their own, but when they persist, they can become chronic. Chronic ear infections, or otitis media, have the potential to cause lasting harm to the ear, including hearing impairment that can impact speech development.
What are the Symptoms of Ear Infection in Children?
A chronic ear infection or otitis media symptoms are usually milder than an acute ear infection and cause sudden ear pain in children.
Your child may have an ear infection if your child is:
- Frequently fussy and crying
- Tugging or pulling at their ear
- Draining fluid from the ears
- Experiencing trouble hearing sounds
- Having a fever and trouble sleeping
- Experiencing problems with balance
If you notice any symptoms listed above, your child should be seen by a pediatric ENT specialist.
How is Ear Infection in Children Diagnosed?
To diagnose a chronic ear infection, the pediatric ENT specialist will conduct a detailed exam of your child’s ears, nose, and throat while inquiring about recent illnesses.
If the examination results are inconclusive, the doctor may use a device called a tympanometer to measure the eardrum’s flexibility at different pressures by using sounds and air pressure.
Other diagnostic procedures may include blood tests, X-rays, and ear cultures to check for infection.
If your child has a history of persistent ear infections or fluid in the ear, your ENT specialist may recommend consulting a hearing, speech or developmental therapist to assess your child’s hearing, speech abilities, language comprehension, or developmental progress.
How to Prevent Ear Infection in Children?
To prevent ear infections, consider these precautions:
- Ensure your child sits up to drink from a bottle or sippy cup.
- Wash your kid’s hands often.
- If your child is breastfeeding, continue to age 12 months or longer.
- If a hole in the eardrum causes the infection, avoid swimming and prevent water from entering the eardrum during a shower.
- Make sure they receive influenza and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
- Protect your child from secondhand smoke exposure.
How is Ear Infection Treated in Children?
Ear infections in children are typically treated based on their severity and the type of infection. Here are the common ear infection treatments for kids:
If your child is diagnosed with an ear infection, treatments may include a combination of pain medications and ear drops.
In rare instances, antibiotics may be prescribed. It’s crucial to complete the entire course of antibiotics, even if the child’s symptoms improve before the medication is finished.
Sometimes, surgery is the best treatment for ear infections in babies and toddlers:
- Myringotomy: For chronic ear infections, ear tube placement is often recommended. These small tubes are inserted into the eardrum to facilitate fluid drainage. The tubes naturally fall out after about six months to a year.
- Adenoidectomy: If your child experiences recurrent ear infections due to enlarged adenoids, surgical removal may be recommended. The adenoids are located in the roof of the mouth and, when infected and enlarged, can lead to chronic ear infections. Adenoid removal is performed under general anesthesia.
- Tympanoplasty: Tympanoplasty is an outpatient procedure for repairing large eardrum holes. During the procedure, a graft of the child’s own tissue is used to patch the hole in the eardrum and restore hearing. Over several months, this material gradually dissolves as the eardrum heals.
- Mastoidectomy: Complications of ear infections, such as the formation of a skin-lined cyst in the middle ear or the infection spreading into the mastoid bone, may necessitate a mastoidectomy surgery. This procedure involves an incision made behind the ear. If the eardrum requires repair, it is usually addressed during the surgery.
Book an appointment with Dr. Peter Baptista
If your child experiences persistent ear pain, hearing difficulties, or recurrent infections, it’s essential to consult with a pediatric ENT specialist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Remember: early intervention is vital in managing common ENT problems in children!
So don’t hesitate – schedule a consultation with Dr. Peter Baptista today.
Dr Peter Baptista Jardin
European Board Certified ENT Doctor In Dubai
Dr. Peter Baptista Jardin is an ENT specialist with a special interest in treating sleep apnea. He is a revered expert in Spain for performing the first ever robotic transoral surgery in 2011, and the only series of hypoglossal nerve stimulation proved revolutionary for obstructive sleep apnea treatment worldwide. He currently serves as an ENT doctor in Dubai’s Al Zahra Hospital.