What Mom Should Know About Ear Infections and Other Infant Ear Problems


Some babies seem to have one ear infection after another

Some babies seem to have one ear infection after another. An ear infection occurs when the middle ear, the small part of the ear located behind the eardrum, becomes infected from trapped nose and throat germs. Or, when babies suffer from a cold, their ear tubes, called Eustachian tubes, become swollen and can trap ear fluid inside the ear. Bacteria can quickly grow and infect this area of the ear. It seems like babies are afflicted by ear infections more than older children, and there is a reason for this. Infants have very small ear drums and ear tubes which can very easily become blocked an infected.

The main symptom of an ear infection is an earache. Babies, however, can’t articulate that their ear is hurting, instead they will fuss, cry, and may pull at their ear or ears. They may have trouble sleeping, and may not want to eat. There may or may not be a fever present with an ear infection.

Your child’s doctor can easily diagnose an ear infection. The doctor will use a lighted instrument to look into the ear to see if the ear tubes are swollen, or to see if there is fluid behind the ear drum. This is a painless examination.

Most ear infections will go away on their own, but children under two years of age should be prescribed an antibiotic. Children’s Tylenol or other doctor approved pain medication may be administered, but never give anybody under the age of 20 aspirin.

If your baby has repeated ear infections, or they don’t respond to antibiotics, then your doctor might recommend putting tubes in the baby’s ears. This is an outpatient procedure. The doctor will insert small tubes into the eardrum to facilitate drainage. This can reduce the number of ear infections by half as much, and can reduce the severity of any new infections.

Swimmer’s ear is another ear issue that can be found in young children. Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear that occurs when pool water remains in the ear and bacteria grows in it, thereby infecting the ear. Swimmer’s ear is easily treated with eardrops, but seeking medical help right away can prevent complications and keep the infection from spreading to the inner ear.

A build up of ear wax is another common ear condition that affects infants and babies. Usually ear wax is a good thing, as it protects the lining of the ear canal, and can it has properties that fight off infection. Ear wax can, however, build up to the point where it blocks the ear canal. The result of this build up can be extreme pain for the baby, depending on the location of the build up, or just block their hearing. Ear wax build ups should be removed from the baby’s ear even if there’s no pain, because babies need to hear properly to learn how to communicate and talk. Your doctor can easily remove the ear wax build up with a special tool, and he may prescribe ear drops to keep the wax from building up again.

Any ear problem, or suspected ear issue, should be treated and monitored by your baby’s doctor. If you suspect anything is wrong with their ears, call your doctor right away.

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