How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting An Ear Infection
- Wash your childs hands and your own often to keep germs away.
- If possible, breastfeed your baby.
- Avoid bottle-feeding your baby when they are lying down. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
- Transition your baby from a bottle to a cup by 1 year of age.
- Dont smoke, and keep your child away from any second-hand smoke. Exposure to smoke can increase the risk of ear infections.
- Ensure your child gets the pneumococcal vaccine .
- Ensure your child gets a flu shot every year.
- If your child has had many ear infections, try reducing the use of pacifiers . Using a pacifier may increase the risk of repeated ear infections.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Very rarely, ear infections that don’t go away or severe repeated middle ear infections can lead to complications. So kids with an earache or a sense of fullness in the ear, especially when combined with fever, should be seen by their doctors if they aren’t getting better after a couple of days.
Healing Time In Different Sections Of The Ear
The infections persist in the middle, the outer and inner part of the ear. Every part has its unique features. As a result healing time also depends on the section of the ear.
- Outer Causes of outer ear infection are different from a middle ear infection. The most common type of infection in the outer ear is bacterial infections. But fungal and viral infections can occur as well. It can last for a week or longer. Its symptoms are severe pain in the ear, purulent discharge, fever, etc.
- Middle The infection shouldnt last more than one or two days. After an ear infection clears up, fluid may remain in the middle ear and cause some of the more mild symptoms and can persist for several weeks to months. This condition is diagnosed as otitis media with effusion. Its symptoms are ear pain, feeling like your ear is clogged, Nausea, Reduced Hearing.
- Inner The infection exists for a long time in this section. Most commonly, viral is the reason for the inner ear infection. These viruses can be most of the flu and cold. Its symptoms are pain, fever, and reduced hearing. Nausea and tinnitus can also occur in an inner ear infection.
The Eustachian tube drains fluid and air from the middle ear. Blockage in the Eustachian tube may cause fluid to build up. This causes pain since it applies pressure on the eardrum. The fluid is also a fertile ground for bacteria growth and this leads to an ear infection.
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Should I Use Antibiotics For An Ear Infection
Antibiotics are a medicine prescribed by your doctor. If youre dealing with an ear infection caused by bacteria, youll likely need antibiotics. They are the best way of quickly getting rid of a bacterial infection and preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body.
The catch is that antibiotics dont work against viruses if you use antibiotics on a viral ear infection, it can actually make the infection worse. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to a condition called antibiotic resistance, which means that the medicine becomes less effective at fighting off bacteria.
Thats why doctors are careful about using antibiotics wisely and may not immediately prescribe them for ear infections.
Are Ear Infections A Symptom Of Covid
Ear infections are not typically a symptom of COVID-19. However, if you or a family member experience an earache along with other respiratory symptoms or other indicators of COVID-19, you should get tested as soon as possible. Call first before visiting a hospital, medical clinic or urgent care. Learn more about Indigos testing options.
You can also take a quick online assessment using our Coronavirus Assessment Tool, or have an e-Visit with an Indigo Online Care provider to determine your risk and whether you need to be referred to a testing site.
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Medical Treatment In Children
Doctors often take a wait-and-see approach when treating ear infections in children to avoid over-prescribing antibiotics, which can lead to antibiotic resistance.
A doctor may sometimes write you a prescription for antibiotics if symptoms are severe or dont resolve within 2 to 3 days. Alternatively, they may write you a prescription but recommend waiting first to see if your childs symptoms get better after 2 to 3 days.
Its important to finish your entire prescription. Often, a 7- or 10-day prescription of amoxicillin is prescribed.
You shouldnt give children aspirin without their doctors instruction. Aspirin is a preventable risk factor for developingReyes syndrome, a rare disorder that causes brain and liver damage.
What Is The Treatment For An Ear Infection
- Most ear infections get better without any treatment. Recovery usually takes place within three days but can take up to a week.
- You may need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat a fever.
- Drink lots of fluid and eat as normally as you can.
- Most ear infections don’t need antibiotics. See a doctor if you’re concerned.
The immune system can usually clear germs that cause ear infections. Treatments that may be advised to help with the symptoms include the following:
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Earaches In Adults: What You Need To Know
Been a while since you woke up with a sharp, stabbing earache? Such a distant memory you don’t even know where to find a heating pad like the one your mom used to carefully apply to the side of your face?
Consider yourself lucky but not necessarily off the hook. Although ear infections are more common among children, some 20% occur in adults. Bad news for those of us who thought we had outgrown that phase for good. But the good news is, for the most part, there are easy ways to fix the problem, and even easier ways to avoid the common mistakes that can land even the most responsible adults in the reclining chair of an ear, nose and throat doctor .
Luckily, Dr. Brian Wang, an ENT doctor at Houston Methodist, is here to answer all of our burning questions about the types of ear problems that most frequently occur in adults.
How Is An Ear Infection Diagnosed
Doctors diagnose ear infections by looking at the ear drum with a special light called an otoscope. They look for fluid in the middle ear, at the colour and position of the ear drum, and monitor the pressure in the middle ear. Common viral infections can make the ear drum look red, but antibiotics are not needed.
So We Should Not Insert Cotton Swabs Into Our Ears To Try To Clean Them Or Remove Earwax Right
Dr. Wang: Correct. Use of Q-Tips can cause not only outer ear infections, but also trauma of the ear canal or eardrum, which can affect hearing and cause other types of infection and ear pain. Also, part of the swab can break off, leaving a foreign body in your ear that needs to be removed. It’s a common reason for ER visits, actually. If you feel you have a buildup of ear wax, I recommend applying a tissue or soft thin cloth to your finger and wiping gently around the entrance to the ear. There are also over-the-counter ear wax removal kits from Debrox® that are safe to use, when used as directed.
You Experience Added Symptoms
If you experience any of these symptoms with your ear infection, youll want to visit a doctor as soon as you can.
- Its hard to move parts of your face like normal
- Swelling under or behind the ear
- Knots forming around the ear
- Changes in personality
- Discharge draining from the ear
These symptoms may mean your ear infection is much worse than normal cases. If your child has any of these symptoms, its even more important to get them to a doctor quickly.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Otitis Media
Symptoms of ear infection include:
- Ear pain: This symptom is obvious in older children and adults. In infants too young to speak, look for signs of pain like rubbing or tugging ears, crying more than usual, trouble sleeping, acting fussy/irritable.
- Loss of appetite: This may be most noticeable in young children, especially during bottle feedings. Pressure in the middle ear changes as the child swallows, causing more pain and less desire to eat.
- Irritability: Any kind of continuing pain may cause irritability.
- Poor sleep: Pain may be worse when the child is lying down because the pressure in the ear may worsen.
- Fever: Ear infections can cause temperatures from 100° F up to 104° F. Some 50% of children will have a fever with their ear infection.
- Drainage from the ear: Yellow, brown, or white fluid that is not earwax may seep from the ear. This may mean that the eardrum has ruptured .
- Trouble hearing: Bones of the middle ear connect to the nerves that send electrical signals to the brain. Fluid behind the eardrums slows down movement of these electrical signals through the inner ear bones.
Can Ear Infections Be Prevented
Some lifestyle choices can help protect kids from ear infections:
- Breastfeed infants for at least 6 months to help to prevent the development of early episodes of ear infections. If a baby is bottle-fed, hold the baby at an angle instead of lying the child down with the bottle.
- Prevent exposure to secondhand smoke, which can increase the number and severity of ear infections.
- Parents and kids should wash their hands well and often. This is one of the most important ways to stop the spread of germs that can cause colds and, therefore, ear infections.
- Keep children’s immunizations up to date because certain vaccines can help prevent ear infections.
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What Are The Harms Of Fluid Buildup In Your Ears Or Repeated Or Ongoing Ear Infections
Most ear infections dont cause long-term problems, but when they do happen, complications can include:
- Loss of hearing: Some mild, temporary hearing loss usually occurs during an ear infection. Ongoing infections, infections that repeatedly occur, damage to internal structures in the ear from a buildup of fluid can cause more significant hearing loss.
- Delayed speech and language development: Children need to hear to learn language and develop speech. Muffled hearing for any length of time or loss of hearing can significantly delay or hamper development.
- Tear in the eardrum: A tear can develop in the eardrum from pressure from the long-lasting presence of fluid in the middle ear. About 5% to 10% of children with an ear infection develop a small tear in their eardrum. If the tear doesnt heal on its own, surgery may be needed. If you have drainage/discharge from your ear, do not place anything into your ear canal. Doing so can be dangerous if there is an accident with the item touching the ear drum.
- Spread of the infection: Infection that doesnt go away on its own, is untreated or is not fully resolved with treatment may spread beyond the ear. Infection can damage the nearby mastoid bone . On rare occasions, infection can spread to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord and cause meningitis.
When To Get Treatment For An Ear Infection
Ear infections are a pain. And while anyone can get one, theyre one of the most common reasons young children visit a medical provider.
Most ear infections are not serious and will clear up on their own in a matter of days. While you wait it out, pain and discomfort can be easily managed at home. But when symptoms worsen or are prolonged, medical treatment may be necessary.
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What You Can Do For An Earache
The most important thing you can do for your earache is take anti-inflammatories such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen and take the highest dosage you can while youre experiencing discomfort. You should not use leftover antibiotic drops from a previous ear infection these drops can cause damage to your inner ear if youre using them for the wrong type of infection.
Untreated ear pain may lead to complications. If you need to see a doctor for that earache, MedHelp urgent care is open seven days a week with a convenient location near you.
What Your Urgent Care Doctor Can Do For An Earache
When you see your urgent care doctor for an earache, the first thing your doctor will do is examine your ear using an otoscope. Your doctor will examine the membrane while also looking for fluid or wax buildup.
Sometimes, in the case of impacted wax, your doctor can help clean your ear and immediately resolve your ear pain. In the case of fever or swollen lymph nodes, your doctor may order blood work to determine if antibiotics are needed to treat your ear infection. In the case of severe infections, we also offer injectable antibiotics to help you avoid a ruptured eardrum. Not all earaches will require treatment.
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When To Call Your Doctor
You should talk to your doctor or pediatrician about any ear infections and if you or your child has the following symptoms:
- Fever greater than 101 F
- Severe ear pain and drainage from the ear
- Pus or blood in the outer ear
Also call your pediatrician if your child is sluggish, cant stop crying despite efforts to soothe, shows signs of weakness, has a crooked smile, and/or is not walking straight.
Home Treatment Isnt Working
There are a number of home remedies that can help with an infection. A warm compress, over-the-counter drops, and even tea tree oil are commonly used.
However, if youve tried to get rid of the infection with a home remedy and youre still having problems after a few days, its time to seek help. The last thing you want is for the infection to worsen.
In addition, if symptoms return after youve treated the infection at home, its time to call Amory Urgent Care.
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So What Causes Middle Ear Infections As Adults
Dr. Wang: In adults, they are usually associated with inflammation in the nasal cavity or the throat, such as a sinus infection, strep throat, cold or flu or if the patient has acid reflux, bad seasonal allergies, is a smoker or is exposed to second-hand smoke. The nasopharyngeal inflammation leads to Eustachian tube dysfunction, which then leads to fluid developing in the middle ear that then becomes infected. Sometimes patients who had middle ear infections a lot as kids continue to get them frequently as adults. Something about the anatomy or physiology of their tubes was never really resolved.
Are There Other Types Of Ear Infections That Can Affect Adults
Dr. Wang: There is something called an inner ear infection. Inner ear infections are pretty different from outer and middle ear infections, and much rarer overall. We see them primarily in adults. Inner ear infections typically present with hearing loss, vertigo, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. If you have these symptoms, you should rest, avoid driving, sudden movements and alcohol. Inner ear infections will usually clear up in several days on their own, but if symptoms don’t go away, you should call your primary care provider or ENT doctor. Note: If you have sudden hearing loss in one ear, get in to see your doctor immediately or call 911, because tests need to be performed immediately.
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What If My Ear Infection Doesnt Go Away After Antibiotics
If you or your child finish your course of antibiotics, but it seems like the ear infection hasnt gone away, make an appointment with your doctor. Theyll help figure out whats going on and what to do next. Theres a chance that your doctor may prescribe a different type of antibiotic to see if it works better.
Its also possible that the infection is gone but the symptoms arent. This can happen if theres still fluid trapped in the ear, causing a plugged-up feeling, pain or hearing loss. Most of the time the fluid in ears drains within a couple of weeks, but sometimes it sticks around longer.
What Can I Do To Prevent Ear Infections
Middle ear infections are often a result of a simple cold. While its hard to prevent colds, good hygiene can help lower your chance of catching one.
Keep your child away from cigarette smoke. Exposure to cigarette smoke increases your childs risk of ear infections.
If your child keeps getting ear infections, they may need grommets put in their ears to prevent recurring infection.
Your risk of an outer ear infection may be reduced by:
- ensuring that you or your child drain water out of your ears after swimming
- using ear plugs for swimming if you are prone to these infections
- not putting anything into your ear, not even a cotton bud, even if your ear feels blocked or painful
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How Can I Prevent Ear Infections
The CDC offers several tips for reducing the risk factors that contribute to ear infections. These include:
- Staying up to date on childhood vaccines including the pneumococcal vaccine that helps protect against the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that can cause ear infections and the flu vaccine.
- Frequent handwashing by parents and caregivers
- Breastfeeding until at least 6 months passes on moms immunity to babies
- Avoid exposing your child to secondhand smoke
Babys first sick visit: its never fun, sometimes scary and often related to an ear infection. But dont worry if your pediatrician sends you home empty-handed at first. At Loudoun Pediatric Associates, well make sure your child gets what she needs in the case of an ear infection, whether its a round of antibiotics or a few days of rest and watchful waiting. Sometimes we need an antibiotic to give those germs the boot, but in other cases rest, fluids and lots of snuggles are the best prescription.
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