While anyone can get ear infections, this problem is far more common in childhood. In fact, most children will experience at least one ear infection by the time they turn three. It seems so unfair that little ones have to deal with frequent or painful ear infections, but if it happens it’s good to know the telltale signs, how to handle and ease your child’s symptoms, and also when to come in to visit an ENT doctor for care.
There are three main types of ear infections to be on the lookout for:
Acute otitis media: Also known as swimmer’s ear, this is the most common type of ear infection in children. It will cause pain and sometimes inflammation of the middle ear and ear canal. Children may also develop a fever.
Otitis media with effusion: Once the ear infection has gone away sometimes some fluid remains behind the eardrums. While your child may not complain of any pain or other symptoms, an ENT doctor will quickly be able to detect if there is still fluid trapped in the ear that will need to be drained.
Chronic otitis media: An ear infection may turn chronic if your child doesn’t receive the proper medical attention and treatment necessary to kill the bacteria and eliminate fluid buildup. If the infection is allowed to fester within the ear for a long period of time, then your child may develop recurring or a chronic infection. At this point, having an ear infection for this long could result in damage to your child’s hearing.
So, how do you tell if your child has an ear infection? If your child is already able to verbalize then it will be much easier to figure out if your child is having an issue with their ears. If your child is very young you may have to look for nonverbal cues such as:
- Tugging or pulling at the ears
- Fluid draining from the ears
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Being more irritable
- Difficulty hearing people
- Having issues with balance
Since child’s immune systems are still developing, this leaves them prone to developing ear infections more readily than adults. This is why it’s so important to visit an ENT doctor if your child is displaying any symptoms of an ear infection. Fortunately, these infections are often easy to treat with prescription ear drops designed to kill the bacteria responsible for the infection. Before an ear infection turns serious, bring your child to an ear, nose and throat specialist as soon as possible.