Why Do Children Get Many More Ear Infections Than Adults Will My Child Always Get Ear Infections
Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections for these reasons:
- The eustachian tubes in young children are shorter and more horizontal. This shape encourages fluid to gather behind the eardrum.
- The immune system of children, which in the bodys infection-fighting system, is still developing.
- The adenoids in children are relatively larger than they are in adults. The adenoids are the small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. As they swell to fight infection, they may block the normal ear drainage from the eustachian tube into the throat. This blockage of fluid can lead to a middle ear infection.
Most children stop getting ear infections by age 8.
What Medicines Treat Otitis Media
Some children will get better without specific antibiotic treatment, as many ear infections are viral in nature and do not need an antibiotic. However, doctors typically prescribe antibiotics in infants under 6 months of age, and for recurrent ear infections or severe symptoms. However, using antibiotics too often can cause bacteria to become resistant to the medicine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend a “wait-and-see” approach for children:
- 6 to 23 months of age with a temperature less than102.2 F and middle ear pain in one ear for less than 48 hours
- 24 months and older with mild middle ear pain in one or both ears for less than 48 hours and a temperature less than 102.2 F
Parents will follow-up with the doctor in 2 to 3 days with the wait-and-see approach. Some doctors will still prescribe antibiotics in children under 2 years with AOM. In more serious cases in older children, when there is recent high fever, both ears are affected, or ear drainage, an antibiotic treatment may be appropriate. Talk with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of using antibiotics.
Antibiotic choice should be based on effectiveness, patient-specific needs like allergies, taste or dosage form preference, dosing convenience and cost. Its important to remember that although most antibiotics used for ear infections are very safe, there may still be side effects such as diarrhea or rash from antibiotic use.
Causes Of Ear Infection
Causes of chronic ear infections include bacteria, viruses, fungus, smoking, food sensitivities and a malformed ear canal. Chronic infections may lead to hearing loss and require tubes inserted in the ear to help the fluid drain from behind the ear drum.
Antibiotics are only useful against a bacterial infection, but often ear infections are viral. Antibiotics strip the body of both good and bad bacteria. Taking them depletes the bodys beneficial and protective flora and opens the door for any new bacteria to grow without opposition. If you have taken antibiotics it is a good idea to take a probiotic such as acidophilus and bifido bacteria. This replenishes the good flora and prevents yeast, parasitic and bacterial overgrowth.
Luckily there are several ways of addressing chronic ear infections naturally. I have seen many children who were scheduled for tubes to be put in, yet they were able to avoid the procedure using diet and natural remedies alone.
In my experience, the largest factor influencing chronic ear infections is the consumption of dairy products. These foods seem to increase mucus production and trap bacteria or viruses in the ear canal. The thick mucus doesnt drain adequately and an infection ensues. People in many countries outside North America do not consume dairy products and as a result have fewer ear infections and cavities, and lower rates of osteoporosis then we do here.
Recommended Reading: Boric Acid For Recurrent Yeast Infection
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- How can I keep my child comfortable at night with the pain of an ear infection?
- Is there drainage with an ear infection?
- What is the difference between an ear infection and swimmers ear?
- Is my child a candidate for ear tubes?
- What are the risks and benefits of surgically inserting tubes inside my childs middle ear?
- Should my child get regular hearing tests if they have frequent ear infections?
What Are Recurrent Ear Infections And How Are They Treated
Recurrent ear infections are due to persistent fluid behind the eardrum that gets re-infected, says Dr. Poston. Younger children are more likely to get recurrent ear infections because their Eustachian tubes are both more horizontal and smaller in diameter.
Antibiotics do not get rid of the fluid behind the eardrum, but will eliminate most of the bacteria. Children who get more than three ear infections in six months, or four ear infections in 12 months, may get tubes in their ears. These small, plastic tubes are inserted into the eardrum, usually under anesthesia, and help fluid drain from behind the eardrum. They require checkups and usually fall out on their own after six to nine months. If other treatment isnt productive, a healthcare provider or ear, nose, and throat specialist may suggest removing the childs adenoids to prevent the spread of infection into the Eustachian tubes.
Recommended Reading: How To Tell If Tooth Infection Has Spread
What If My Child Has Frequent Middle Ear Infections
Recurrent ear infections can be a problematic for both parent and child. A child is considered otitis prone when they have 3 ear infections within a 6 month period or 4 within a year.
Risk factors that may increase the frequency of ear infections include:
- male gender
- exposure to passive smoke
- symptoms lasting longer than 10 days
The insertion of tympanostomy tubes may be recommended in these cases. While there are inherent risks with any surgical procedure, they are infrequent with ear tube insertion. The benefits of ear tubes include fewer ear infections and the ability to treat future infections with topical antibiotic therapy instead of oral drugs.
In July 2015, the FDA announced they were targeting 16 unapproved ear drop ingredients often used in infants and young children. These drugs, prescribed and sold for years to relieve ear pain and swelling, had not been evaluated for safety, quality and effectiveness. The agency notified the manufacturers to stop marketing the drops following reports of local allergic reactions of the ear, eye, face, neck and mouth. The drops can also cause itching, stinging, burning and irritation of the ear. The products covered by this action include:
Is There An Effective Preventative Surgical Treatment For Children With Frequent Ear Infections
Children who have four or more ear infections per year meet the criteria to have ear tubes inserted into the eardrum. Ear tubes create a drainage pathway for bacteria behind the eardrum to get out, so infections dont form. This is a commonly performed surgery in the U.S. and is very effective in preventing ear infections.
Read Also: Get Rid Of Bladder Infection Fast
What Are Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
Ear infections most often occur in the middle part of the ear. Ear infections in children commonly include the following symptoms:
Pulling at one or both ears
Your doctor will assess the type of bacteria likely causing your ear infection to determine which antibiotic to give you. Most people begin feeling relief within 24 hours of starting a course of antibiotics, and symptoms should improve significantly within 48-72 hours.
When Else Are Antibiotics Needed
Antibiotics can be the right treatment for kids who get a lot of ear infections. Their doctors might prescribe daily antibiotics to help prevent future infections. And younger children or those with more severe illness may need antibiotics right from the start.
The “wait-and-see” approach also might not apply to children with other concerns, such as cleft palate, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, or other illnesses such as immune system disorders.
Don’t Miss: Do Urine Infections Go Away On Their Own
How To Prevent Ear Infections In Children
While ear infections cant be prevented entirely, there are some ways to reduce the risk factors associated with them:
- Keep cigarette smoke away from children, especially babies. Research shows that children around secondhand smoke have more ear infections.
- Keep childrens vaccinations up to date, especially the pneumococcal and influenza vaccines.
- Use good hand washing hygiene for everyone, including children.
- Dont bottle-prop or allow babies or young children to go to bed with a bottle.
- Keep children away from people who are sick.
- Breastfeed exclusively for six months, and continue to breastfeed until the baby is at least 12 months old.
What Causes Ear Infections In Young Children
Ear infections are primarily bacterial infections. They happen when a childs Eustachian tubes swell and become blocked. This swelling and blockage cause fluid to accumulate in the middle ear behind the eardrum.
But what causes these tubes to swell and get blocked? According to Healthline, a number of factors cause this problem. These factors include colds, allergies, smoking, and excess mucus. Changes in air pressure and swollen adenoids are also common causes of blockage in the Eustachian tubes.
Typically, ear infections occur when a child has an upper respiratory infection. A child thats caught a cold or one thats battling a sore throat is likely to get this infection.
Don’t Miss: Are There Different Types Of Uti Infections
Natural Ear Infection Remedies
Are you struggling with symptoms of an ear infection and wondering how to cure an ear infection fast? Ear infections, whether they afflict adults or more commonly children, can be really unpleasant and outright painful.
Ear infections can be in the outer, middle or inner ear. For this article, Im going to focus on the most common type of ear infection, which is an infection of the middle ear.
According to the CDC, middle ear infections, may not need antibiotics in many cases because the bodys immune system can fight off the infection without help from antibiotics and a mild case often will get better on its own without antibiotic treatment, so your health care professional may recommend watchful waiting before prescribing antibiotics to you or your loved one.
So even conventional medicine agrees that antibiotics are often not the way to go, which means its time to talk about natural ear infection treatment and ear infection pain relief.
Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
If you think your child has an ear infection, see your pediatrician. They can make an accurate diagnosis, look for complications, and prescribe the appropriate medications, if needed. Keep in mind treatment for an acute ear infection is not always needed.
A telltale sign of an ear infection is a bulging tympanic membrane , as visualized by your doctor with an otoscope , and ear pain. Older children may also experience hearing loss.
In younger children and infants, the symptoms of an ear infection may include:
- tugging on the ears, ear pain, especially when lying down
- fever over 100 degrees F
- dizziness or loss of balance
- fluid draining from ear
- children who have cleft palates
- a recent ear infection
- lack of access to medical care
Ear infections are not contagious. However, colds are contagious and may spread through a daycare center or school and increase the risk of getting an ear infection.
Drainage of green or yellow fluid out of the ear may indicate that there is a ruptured eardrum.
Recommended Reading: How To Avoid A Yeast Infection While Taking Antibiotics
Symptoms Of Ear Infections
- The main symptom is an earache.
- Younger children will cry, act fussy or have trouble sleeping because of pain.
- About 50% of children with an ear infection will have a fever.
- Complication: In 5% to 10% of children, the eardrum will develop a small tear. This is from the pressure in the middle ear. The ear then drains cloudy fluid or pus. This small hole most often heals over in 2 or 3 days.
How Does A Doctor Diagnose A Middle Ear Infection
The first thing a doctor will do is ask you about your childs health. Has your child had a head cold or sore throat recently? Is he having trouble sleeping? Is she pulling at her ears? If an ear infection seems likely, the simplest way for a doctor to tell is to use a lighted instrument, called an otoscope, to look at the eardrum. A red, bulging eardrum indicates an infection.
A doctor also may use a pneumatic otoscope, which blows a puff of air into the ear canal, to check for fluid behind the eardrum. A normal eardrum will move back and forth more easily than an eardrum with fluid behind it.
Tympanometry, which uses sound tones and air pressure, is a diagnostic test a doctor might use if the diagnosis still isnt clear. A tympanometer is a small, soft plug that contains a tiny microphone and speaker as well as a device that varies air pressure in the ear. It measures how flexible the eardrum is at different pressures.
Don’t Miss: Does Benadryl Help With Tooth Infection
Does My Child Need Antibiotics
Many ear infections will get better without antibiotics. If your child’s ear infection is mild, your doctor might want you to wait a few days to see if the infection gets better on its own. If your child does not feel better after two or three days, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. Children six months or younger and children with very bad ear infections will be given antibiotics right away.
When Antibiotics Really Are Needed
According to the AAP guidelines, all babies under 6 months who develop an ear infection should be treated with antibiotics. Kids between 6 months and 2 years also should get antibiotics if their pediatrician is certain they have an ear infection. A child who has severe symptoms, such as extreme pain or a fever over 102.2 F, also should be treated with antibiotics even if the doctor isn’t 100 percent certain she has an ear infection.
Most children with certain chronic health issues also should be put on antibiotics for an ear infection. This includes kids with Down syndrome, immune system problems, cleft palate, or a cochlear implant. The same holds true for any child who’s had an ear infection in the previous 30 days or has chronic fluid in her ears.
Ear Infection Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
Don’t Miss: Natural Tooth Pain Relief Infection
Remedies For Ear Infections In Children
In addition to treating your child’s ear infection, there are ways to help an ear infection in a child. Some of the best remedies for easing the pain of ear infections include:
- Applying a cold or warm compress to the ear
- Sleeping in a position that avoids putting pressure on the infected ear
- Getting plenty of rest
- Slowly rotating the neck
- Try getting a child’s mind off their pain by doing a low-impact activity such as coloring, playing a board game, solving a puzzle or watching a movie
Home Remedies To Treat Ear Infection In Kids
Children suffer from ear infections caused due to viruses or bacteria. These infections are more common among children than adults. The reasons for this infection includes a build-up of wax, infections of the trachea, environmental and food allergies, genetics, alcohol syndrome, internal injuries and nutritional deficiencies.
You know that your child has an ear infection when you see him tugging at his ear, screaming and crying with pain, sleeping poorly, suffering a headache, vomiting, diarrhea and burning with fever.
Also Check: Oregano Oil For Tooth Infection
Anatomy Of An Ear Infection
The ear is divided into the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Infection can occur in any of these areas, but bacterial infections of the inner ear are extremely rare.
Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can cause infections in the ear. Infections can be brought on by an illness, such as a cold or allergies.
Ear infections generally occur when bacteria, viruses, or fungi gain entry into one of the three areas of the ear and cause infection.
Fluid In The Middle Ear
This chain of events has several effects on the body. One effect is a lowered resistance to bacteria and viruses associated with ear infections and respiratory infections. Another possible effect is the accumulation of fluid in the problem ear. This becomes evident to parents if hearing is impaired due to fluid in the middle ear pressing against the eardrum. Fluid accumulates because the Eustachian tube does not perform its usual function of draining mucus from the middle ear into the throat. This type of hearing problem is temporary. Most children with fluid in their middle ear recover without any treatment.
In some cases fluid collection will persist for an extended period of time. During the time that hearing is impaired a child may show a temporary delay in language or cognitive development. It must be remembered that hearing problems may be slight, moderate or severe and this will have an influence on development. In addition, no studies confirm the relationship between the accumulation of fluid in the childs ears with temporarily decreased hearing and any long-term developmental delays.
Read Also: Best Medication For Kidney Infection
More Ear Infection Remedies
Top Foods for Ear Infections
- Water: Helps maintain hydration and clear out mucus.
- Wild-caught fish: Omega-3 fats found in wild-caught fish help to reduce inflammation.
- Non-dairy baby formula: If a baby drinks formula, I recommend switching to coconut or goats milk-based formulas which tend to cause fewer allergies. However, breast-feeding is most ideal.
- Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C: Keeps immune system strong, which helps the bodys ability to ward off infection.
Foods to Avoid
- Potential food allergens: Some common allergens include conventional dairy, gluten, shrimp and peanuts.
- Conventional dairy: Pasteurized-cow dairy products can be mucus-producing and worsen infection.
- Sugar: Reduces immune function and encourages inflammation.
- Processed foods: These foods may contain added chemicals and dyes that young children can be sensitive to.
Supplement Ear Infection Remedies
- Garlic oil ear drops Garlic oil is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
- Zinc Zinc boosts immune function and promotes healing.
- Vitamin C Vitamin C enhances immune function and lowers inflammation.
- Vitamin D3 Vitamin D3 helps support the immune system.