Could Your Baby Have an Ear Infection?
Baby won’t stop crying, and you’ve tried everything—a diaper change, feeding, rash check. You suspect it might be in response to an ear infection, but you’re wondering if it’s just a behavior they’re picking up as they get older. Ear infections in young children are common, with 5 out of 6 children having at least one before their third birthday. Learn the basics of childhood ear infections, and find out if it’s time to call the doctor.
Why Are Ear Infections Common in Young Children?
The eustachian tube connects the back of the throat to the middle ear. When we get sick, this canal can become inflamed, and bacteria may travel from the throat, up the eustachian tube, and into the inner ear, an optimal breeding ground for microbes. The eustachian tube lengthens as we grow, making it more difficult for bacteria to reach the inner ear. Because young children have short eustachian tubes, bacteria have a much easier time reaching this area and causing an infection.
What Can You Do To Prevent Ear Infections in Young Children?
Since it’s easier for young children to get ear infections, it’s essential to take steps to keep them healthy. Remember these tips to keep your child’s ears healthy:
- Keep your child up to date on their immunizations.
- Help them avoid secondhand smoke.
- Keep them away from people with upper respiratory infections.
- Breastfeed them if possible, as this can transfer antibodies to your child and increase their resistance to infection.
What Are the Signs of an Ear Infection in a Young Child?
If your child is old enough to speak, they can tell you their ear hurts. However, infants and toddlers who can’t talk might display signs that something isn’t right, including:
- Tugging at their ear
- Crying a significant amount
- Being extra fussy
- Not sleeping
- Having drainage from the ear
- Having a fever
- Being clumsier than normal
- Not reacting to quiet sounds
If your child exhibits any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with their Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group pediatrician. We can check for signs of infection, diagnose the problem, and find the right treatment to help your child get back to better.