Every year, 12% of children have an ear infection, which is the top reason that infants need a course of antibiotics. An infection can be extremely painful and distressing, especially for babies and toddlers who aren’t able to express what is causing them discomfort. With children under the age of three, an ear infection can sometimes be mistaken for challenging behaviour, and parents may not always realise that there is an underlying medical cause. By protecting your little one’s ears, you can cut down the possibility of getting an infection. And, by understanding the symptoms, you can get it treated quickly if an infection does occur.
Recognising an ear infection
Young children are susceptible to ear infections because their ear canals are so small and their eustachian tubes – the passage that links the ears, nose and throat are still developing. They also don’t have an immune system that is as strong as adults. Children are likely to get ear infections when they also colds, coughs or other respiratory issues. If they are very young, you will need to pay attention to their behaviour – they may be rubbing their head, or tilting to one side. They may have trouble sleeping and be very cranky. There may be discharge, or even bleeding from the ear, but it is not always present. An unpleasant smell is also a good indicator of an infection – make sure you smell your little one’s ears regularly.
Going to the doctor
If you are concerned that there is an ear infection, you should visit your health professional or doctor as soon as possible. This is where it helps to have private health insurance, as you should be able to get an appointment swiftly – often the same day. You can get a private health insurance quote online and organise this quickly and easily. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics for an ear infection, and provide you with drops. These will need to be administered quickly and regularly, especially if the infection is causing discomfort. A study has found that a full course of antibiotics is the best way to treat an acute ear infection in children.
Keeping ears dry
Water in the ears can be one of the prime culprits in causing an infection. This is because wet and damp conditions are a breeding ground for bacteria. If your little one has been swimming or been in the bath, then it is important to dry the ears as soon as possible. You should never insert anything like baby buds into the ear canal. There is a saying that you should “never put anything bigger than your elbow into your ear”, and this is entirely true. If your child is prone to getting ear infections then use putty earplugs in combination with a neoprene band, such as an “Ear Band-It” to keep them dry when swimming or in the bath.
Knowing the symptoms of an ear infection and how to prevent it, can help you to look after your little one’s ears. If an infection occurs you should make sure that it is treated as quickly as possible.