Baby ear infections are caused by a build up of fluid and bacteria around the eardrum. Normally this fluid leaves pretty quickly through the Eustachian tube (which connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat) during yawns or swallows. But if the Eustachian tube is blocked which often happens when you have cold, sinus infections or during allergy season the fluid gets trapped in the middle ear. The bacteria grow s in dark, warm, wet places, so the ear becomes infected and as the infection worsens, so does the swelling in and around the eardrum, resulting in pain. Then in an effort to fight the infection a fever develops. Baby ear infections are more common because the Eustachian tubes are short in babies rendering them more prone to infections.
Babies cannot tell you they are in pain and crying more than usual should alert you that all is not well. Other baby ear infection symptoms may be grumpiness, refusal to eat and the big tell tale sign, a fever. It is good to keep in mind that an ear infection is likely to appear after a cold. Although babies often pull at their ears for no reason other than that they are there, if you notice ear pulling whilst really crying hard is a good indicator. Other signs that warrant investigation include diarrhea, foul smell coming from the ear or a white or yellowish fluid draining from the ear. This is rare in babies but could happen. Should you notice any of these signs it is time your baby to see a doctor for a proper diagnose and a course of treatment.
Recent studies show that most ear infections in babies will clear up on their own without any treatment, but it is important to have your doctors check it and in most cases he will prescribe an antibiotic and suggest giving your baby children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve the pain. At this point is important that you ensure you give your baby the complete course of the antibiotics and get your doctor to check it in a week or two. In the meantime if you feel anxious or the infection doesn’t seem to be responding you should call your doctor.
Although rare, some ear infections can be dangerous. If an infection is severe and is left untreated it can rupture your baby’s ear drum. These do heal but it is important to get your doctor to make sure the infection has gone and the eardrum is healing properly. If your baby has recurring infections and they are not treated accordingly they can lead to permanent damage to your baby’s hearing. Untreated infections can lead to infections of the skull located behind the ear or to meningitis. So, proper investigation and treatment by your doctor is imperative.
Preventing ear infections in babies is difficult as the baby associates with people. Making sure your baby has been immunized and if your baby has had recurring infections it may be an idea to consult with your doctor about flu vaccines. Also research suggests that babies that have been breastfeed for at least six months have a much lower incidence of ear infection.