Sunday, December 4, 2022

Baby Ear Infection Vs Teething

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How Can I Tell If Its An Ear Infection Or Just Teething

How to tell if your baby is teething or has an ear infection

Are you tired of taking your fussy baby to the doctor to check her ears, only to be told its probably just teething? To help you decide, with teething:

  • The pain usually starts at 4 months old and will come and go until the 2-year molars are in
  • Tugging or digging at the ears with no cold symptoms or fever
  • Fussiness or night waking with no cold symptoms or fever
  • May have low fever less than 101º
  • Teething does not cause a runny nose, only drool

Teething Vs Ear Infection

With five kids, I know what its like to worry about whether a cranky baby is just teething or if its something to be concerned about. Nobody wants to take unnecessary trips to the doctor, especially with a cranky baby in tow, but you dont want to risk your childs health either.

To help you make the right decision, well provide a quick rundown of the signs of teething vs. sickness, explain what you can do in each case, and give you the answers to the question we hear most often.

Symptoms Of Baby Ear Infections

Many parents will notice their baby tugging on their ear or simply acting fussy and assume that they have an ear infection.

However, while ear tugging and fussiness are sometimes signs of ear infections, they can also be the signs of teething, or just general crankiness.

Lets look at all the possible signs of baby ear infections, and how to know whether its time to contact your pediatrician.

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Its Probably Teething If Your Baby:

Is crankier than usual. You might notice them fussing, or wanting to be held or comforted more often. About two-thirds of teething babies show signs of fussiness.

Drools all the time. Expect some slobber as teeth begin pushing outward. More than half of all babies drool when teething, recent research shows. Sometimes all that extra saliva can cause a rash to develop on the chin, cheeks, and neck.

Gnaws on things. An even more common symptom, according to that same research: gum irritation. It affects more than 85% of teething babies.

Your child may respond by biting or chewing on toys or other objects. Or you may see them rubbing their gums or cheeks. They may feel better after gumming a cold washcloth, pacifier, or teething ring.

Has a slightly raised temperature. Fevers have often been linked to teething, but evidence shows thatâs not really true.

In a 2011 study, Brazilian researchers had dentists check on 47 babies every day for 8 months. They found that the children had slight increases in temperature on the day a tooth erupted and the day before. But they didnât have what doctors would call a fever, which in a child is 100.4 F or above.

Is less interested in solids. If your baby has already started on solid foods, you may notice that they want them less in the days leading up to a new tooth. As long as your child is still drinking plenty of breast milk or formula, itâs not something to worry about.

When Should You Call A Healthcare Provider

infant ear infection vs teething

If your child develops signs of an ear infection, such as tugging on the ear and crying while lying down, call your healthcare provider. Your pediatrician will most likely want to examine your childs ears and may prescribe an antibiotic right away. Seek emergency treatment if your childs temperature goes above 104 F or if they develop neck stiffness, muscle weakness, or bleeding.

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Should You Limit Your Childs Activities During An Ear Infection

Thereâs no reed to limit your childâs activities during an ear infection unless they have a fever. In that case, itâs best to keep them home from day care or school. Otherwise, they can attend while recovering from the ear infection. Just be sure to let the child care director or school nurse know of your childâs ear infection and how the prescription medicine should be administered.

Some antibiotics may need to be refrigerated, so itâs a good idea to check that the child care center or school has a refrigerator where it can be safely stored. Make sure the medicine is labeled with your childâs name and dosage instructions.

If your baby or toddler participates in swimming, it may be OK for them to swim while recovering from an ear infection as long as they donât have drainage from the ear or a perforation in the eardrum. You may want to clear this with the healthcare provider first.

If you need to travel by airplane with your baby or toddler, know thatâs itâs OK for your baby to travel while recovering from an ear infection. However, they may experience pain from the pressure. This can be remedied by nursing your baby or offering them a pacifier, as the sucking and swallowing can ease any discomfort.

How Can You Help

Okay, you looked at the symptoms, and you determined it’s not teething but an ear infection. Cool. Consult your pediatrician to find the best treatment option for your child. Here are some common options, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Wait and see
  • In milder cases, it’s best for the infection to heal on its own
  • Over-the-counter pain relief
  • Use the correct pain reliever dosage specific to your baby’s age
  • Anesthetic drops
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    Antibiotics Are Not Always The Answer

    About 60 percent of ear infections are believed to be bacterial the other 40 percent are sparked by viruses and can’t be cured by antibiotics.

    In 2004, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians jointly issued guidelines for treating acute ear infections in kids. The main message to doctors: Hand out fewer unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics, and give the body’s immune system a chance about two to three days to fight off the infection on its own. Studies have shown that approximately 80 percent of middle-ear infections in children go away without antibiotics in a week or so, and about 60 percent of kids have fewer symptoms after 24 hours, whether they take antibiotics or not.

    “Watchful waiting” is appropriate for a healthy child between 6 months and 2 years of age when her symptoms aren’t severe and her doctor isn’t sure after looking in her ear that there’s an infection. It’s also appropriate for kids over 2 without severe symptoms.

    During the waiting period, your pediatrician will probably suggest a pain reliever such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or anesthetic ear drops. If your child’s symptoms don’t improve, contact the doctor.

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    Ear Infection Or Teething What Is Hurting My Baby

    How do I know if my baby’s pain is from teething or his ear infection & should see the doctor again?

    Babies pull on their ear, thats a fact. As they grow they are continuously learning new things about their bodies. They poke their noses. They poke their eyes. They explore and poke around everywhere as they are constantly learning new things. It becomes a problem though when you see them continuously pulling and poking at their ears. How do we know if its infected or not? You find yourself wondering, is this baby of mine in pain? Since babies cant talk we often have to guess, which can be a very aggravating process.

    Just past the outer ear there are three small bones that make up the eardrum. Just beyond that there is a small tube called the Eustachian tube. This tube is so small in babies that when fluid builds up it has a hard time draining out. As the fluid builds up more and more bacteria grows in it and causes an infection. The build up of fluid presses on the eardrum and causes the baby pain. At this point your baby should also have a fever, loss of appetite and inconsolable crying.

    On the other hand, the muscles of the jaw are connected to the ear. When a baby is teething it will make their ears hurt. They will pull on them and rub them. Like an infection, teething can also cause a little fever, loss of appetite and lots of irritability. Knowing that how can we tell the difference between teething and an infection?

    A few things you can do to help relieve the symptoms are:

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    Can Baby Ear Infections Be Prevented

    Ear infections are very common. In most cases, theres not much parents can do to prevent themand you shouldnt feel guilty if it happens to your baby! However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your baby will come down with an ear infection:

    • Breastfeedingyou dont have to breastfeed full-time to reap benefits
    • Reducing your babys exposure to secondhand smoke
    • Practicing good hygiene such as frequent hand washing to reduce the chances of your baby picking up a viral infection that may lead to an ear infection
    • Keeping up with your babys vaccines and getting an annual flu shot

    Is It Teething Or An Ear Infection

    We all worry about our babies its part of the parenting job description, but not knowing why your baby seems to be suffering is never easy. This information will help you determine whether your baby has an ear infection, is teething, or is otherwise unwell.

    Its important to have confidence in your ability to care for your child, to recognize when they are not feeling well, and to listen to your gut when you feel, against all other evidence, that somethings wrong.

    About the Author

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    Risk Factors For Baby Ear Infections

    The majority of children will get at least one or two ear infections in their first few years of life . But some babies may be more at risk for ear infections than others. Here are some risk factors that may increase your babys susceptibility:

    • If you have a family history of ear infections, your baby may be more likely to get them.
    • Your baby is more likely to get an ear infection with the more colds and other viruses they pick up.
    • Babies who have allergies are more likely to have ear infections because of the swelling and inflammation that allergies can cause.
    • Babies with chronic illnesses are more likely to experience ear infections, especially if they have respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis and asthma.
    • Being exposed to secondhand smoke can increase your babys risk for ear infections.
    • Babies who are bottle-fed are more likely to experience ear infections than breastfed babies however, you can minimize the risk by bottle feeding your baby in an upright position, so that milk doesnt pool in their ear passages.
    • Making sure your baby doesnt fall asleep while drinking a bottle can also decrease their likelihood of getting an ear infection.

    Ear Infections Can Still Happen With Ear Tubes

    infant ear infection vs teething

    Unfortunately, the nail-biting experience of putting your young child through surgery doesn’t come with guarantees. Many children will still get an occasional ear infection, especially when they have a cold. However, your child should definitely get fewer infections, and they’ll usually cause less fever and pain.

    “In fact, painless drainage from the ear is the most common sign of an infection in a child who has tubes,” says Dr. Young. However, you may not have to fight with your kid to swallow spoonfuls of antibiotics: Children with tubes in place are able to use antibiotic ear drops instead because the opening in their eardrum allows the medicine to get right into the middle ear.

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    Teething Symptoms And Treatment

    Teething can cause some symptoms that will make it look like an ear infection. For example, some babies pull at their ears as a soothing mechanism, so they might pull at their ears when they are in pain.

    Teething can even result in a fever. Other symptoms of teething include:

    • Drooling
    • Biting
    • Swollen gums

    Some babies have all of these symptoms, and some little ones have none of them. Your baby might have a low-grade fever, cry and pull at their ears, which can insinuate that they have an ear infection. It can make it tricky to tell the difference.

    Treating An Ear Infection

    If you notice the above signs, especially after having few days of cold symptoms, you should call your pediatrician. During this appointment your doctor will check inside your childs ears with a lighted instrument. Depending on how the eardrum looks and severity of symptoms, we will give you advice on how to get your child and whole family back to sleeping comfortably all night.

    Although this is an infection, either caused by viruses or bacteria, most of the time ear infections can get better on their own.

    Keep in mind that antibiotics do not work on viruses.

    You and your childs doctor can adopt a wait and see approach for couple of days. During this time, there are a few things you can do to help your child get well and stay comfortable.

    • Over-the-counter pain relievers
    • Suction the nose frequently
    • Feed in an upright position
    • Make sure the baby sleeps with the head elevated to decrease pressure on the ear and relieve pain

    Related: Are my childs growing pains normal?

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    How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Babys Ear Infection And Teething

    It is tough for any parent to tell the difference between teething and an ear infection. Both conditions cause your baby to be upset, have trouble eating, and tug at their ears.

    Its helpful to remember that most babies develop an ear infection after a cold or another upper respiratory infection. Ear infections usually cause more pain when your child lies down as well. Teething can happen at any time and is often accompanied by drooling.

    If youre not sure what is causing your babys discomfort, call your pediatrician.

    Can Ear Tubes Help

    5 Facts About Ear Infections | Parents

    If your child experiences frequent or chronic ear infections, your pediatrician may discuss ear tubes with you. Ear tubes are tiny tubes that are surgically placed into your childs eardrums to drain fluid and prevent blockages. Ear tubes can provide immediate relief for little ones who regularly experience painful ear infections. Talk with your pediatrician and a pediatric ear, nose, and throat doctor to see whether ear tubes are right for your child.

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    Symptoms That Teething And Ear Infections Share

    There are a lot of symptoms of teething and ear infections that are pretty similar, so it can be hard to tell them apart when your child is feeling unwell.

    If your little one is waking more frequently in the night, then they might be teething, or have an ear infection. Fussiness during the day or at night can be a sure sign something is wrong with your baby, with many different causes.

    Flushed red cheeks are another symptom that could point to either teething or an ear infection.

    If your little one is restless, irritable, and has a reduced appetite, then it’s most likely that something is wrong. Check with the symptoms below to try to identify if this is an ear infection or if your child is teething.

    Cheek rubbing is often something your child will do when they have ear pain or sore gums, so this could point to either cause. If your baby is ear pulling or hitting their ears, this could be because of pain in their ears, but it also could actually be caused by teething pains. Often babies can’t detect the exact place their pain is coming from, so they think that ear pulling will help. If they haven’t got a fever or any cold symptoms, then this is probably a symptom of their teething pain.

    If your baby is refusing to lie flat on their back, it could be because they have an ear infection or because of teething pains.

    Does Teething Cause Ear Infections

    So teething and ear infection symptoms are similar. But does one cause the other? Nope. No. Never. Ear infections are typically bacterial infections. Teething is a natural developmental stage around the 8-month mark. There’s no connection to each other. They just happen to occur during a similar window in your baby’s lifetime. Similar symptoms, close proximity, but that’s it. Hopefully, you can avoid ear infections and tame the teething stage.

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    Are Antibiotics Absolutely Necessary To Treat Ear Infections

    No, they are not absolutely necessary, but they are helpful for several reasons:

    • Antibiotics will help your child feel better faster by eliminating the bacteria, which in turn reduces the fever and ear pain more quickly. Children generally feel better after one or two days of antibiotics.
    • Allowing an ear infection to heal on its own usually subjects a child to four to seven days of fever and ear pain.
    • Antibiotics help prevent the very rare, but possible, complications of an ear infection spreading into the brain or bone surrounding the ear.
    • New research is suggesting that 80 percent of uncomplicated ear infections will resolve within 4 to 7 days without antibiotics. Parents who choose not to use antibiotics can treat the pain and fever with Auralgan anesthetic ear drops and ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or can try using Xlear® nasal spray as mentioned above.

    Treatment For A Baby Or Toddlers Ear Infection

    infant ear infection vs teething

    If you suspect your baby or toddler has an ear infection, youâll want to contact their healthcare provider. Before or after the appointment, you may try the following home treatment strategies:

    • If they have a high fever, help keep them comfortable by

    • dressing them in light clothing

    • keeping the homeâs temperature cool

    • giving them more fluids .

  • For fever and pain, after checking with the provider, you may give your child an age-appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen

  • For an older child, with the provider’s approval, place a warm compress or heating pad over your childâs ear to help manage the pain

  • Use pain-relieving eardrops to help ease your childâs pain, but check with the healthcare provider first.

  • At the appointment, the healthcare provider will check your child’s ears for fluid in the middle ear space behind the eardrum. The provider may use various instruments to check for their sensitivity level and to see how the eardrum moves.

    In some cases what you may have thought was an ear infection could simply be earache caused by your babyâs teething, a foreign object lodged in your toddlerâs ear canal, or a buildup of earwax. The provider will rule these out during the examination.

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