Ear infections also known as acute otitis media is a common problem affecting babies. Caused by the fluid accumulation in the middle ear, this infection is the result of the germs breeding in the fluid.
A weak immune system and insufficient resistance to fight against infections increases the risk of ear infections in babies. Moreover infants are susceptible to contacting ear infections due to the short and horizontal Eustachian tube in the ears which gets easily blocked by fluid.
A common cold or an allergic reaction increases the risk of infant ear infections. Certain immune related disorders such as down syndrome and allergic rhinitis are some of the other causes of baby ear infection. Sometimes hereditary factors, adenoid infections or exposure of the baby’s sensitive ears to carcinogenic and narcotic smoke places the baby at a higher risk of ear infection. Using a pacifier is believed to increase the chances of ear infections as well.
Identifying ear infections in babies is quite difficult and the symptoms of ear infections can often be quite deceptive. Parents who are well tuned to the behavior of the child may be able to identify the problem when they find the child crying and fussing more than usual. If this change in mood happens soon after a cold or a sinus infection then ear infection could be a possible cause of the crankiness.
A common sign of ear infection is when the baby starts pulling or tugging his or her ears. An infant in pain may try to pull and scratch his ears or insert his fingers into his affected ear. Moreover the ear pain can cause insomnia or trouble in sleeping in children.
Ear infections in babies can lead to gastrointestinal disorders such as reduced appetite and diarrhea. Since the pain in the ears makes it difficult for the toddler to chew and eat, you may find your baby eating much less than usual.
A common symptom of an ear infection in babies is fever which is actually a natural body reaction to the infection. Along with fever chest congestion, vomiting, stuffy nose and coughing are some of the common symptoms of body changes during an ear infection.
In certain infants, severe ear infections lead to a discharge of a whitish or yellowish fluid which may or may not have a foul odor accompanied by a loss of hearing. The baby may stop responding to sounds such as those made by the rattle or your voice.
To treat the infection a pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics and ear drops. The antibiotics however can have certain side effects like vomiting or diarrhea. In case of ear infections caused by allergy, decongestants and antihistamines should be given to treat the infection. Certain home remedies like warm compresses, steam and elevating the infant’s head while sleeping is believed to be excellent treatment measures.
Parents can prevent ear infections by breastfeeding the baby and keeping the child away from harmful tobacco and other carcinogenic smoke. For recurrent ear infections it is best to consult a pediatrician immediately.