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Ear Infections and Children

Sep 21, 2015 09:03AM ● Published by Dia

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By Jeffrey Peebles, M.D. – Southlake Medical Director, Complete Care

Most children will have to deal with ear infections at one time or another as they go through the toddler stage, with the majority of them suffering one by the time they reach the age of 3. Here is some information on this condition, and ways to tell if one may be developing in your child.

 Why Children Develop Them So Easily

Children are much more likely than adults to develop ear infections, and there are several reasons why this occurs. First, a child’s Eustachian tubes are a great deal smaller than an adult’s, and as a result, it is much more difficult for fluid to drain from the ear canal. When these tubes are blocked with mucus due to an illness such as a cold, they may not be able to drain at all.

In addition, the immune system of a child is still developing, which makes it harder to fight ear infections. Another common reason for ear infections is that bacteria passing through the mouth and nose can become caught in the adenoids, passing to the Eustachian tubes and middle ear.

Prevention

While there may be no sure-fire way to prevent ear infections in children, there are some ways you can help reduce the chances your child will get one. First, do not smoke around a child. Children who are in homes with cigarette smokers are more susceptible to infections – even the smoke fumes on clothing and hair can cause problems.

If possible, breast-feed your baby, especially if you have a family history of ear infections. If you must bottle-feed, make sure your baby does not drink while lying down.

Also, wash your hands regularly to help prevent the spread of infections by killing the germs that can cause them.

Symptoms and Treatment

There are many ways that you can tell when there is a good chance your child is developing an ear infection. He or she may have difficulty sleeping, or be fussier or cry more than usual. Your child may tug at his or her ears or have trouble with keeping his or her balance. Some children also have a hard time responding to quiet sounds or hearing at all.

In most cases, a doctor will prescribe amoxicillin or some other type of antibiotic for about 7-10 days. Eardrops and over-the-counter medications could help with fever and discomfort as well. If antibiotics are prescribed it is very important your child takes them exactly as directed and for the exact period of time your doctor recommends. If you stop medication too soon, the infection could return. Schedule a follow-up visit to ensure the infection has been eliminated.

 

 If your child develops an ear infection or you ever experience any kind of medical emergency, get in touch with the experts at Complete Care. Contact us online to learn more.

Dr. Jeffrey Peebles, M.D. has an extensive amount of experience in delivering advanced emergency care. He is board certified with the American Board of Emergency Medicine, and a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians/Texas College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Peebles is committed to providing timely, affordable and high-quality medical care to the Southlake community.

 

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