Opinion

From the Desk of A Speech, Language & Hearing Therapist.

By Boniface O. Ezeolu

Ear Infections and Little Ears in Children

Middle ear infections are common in children, and some children are more prone to them than others. The reason is little ears contain lots of little parts, many of which are still developing.
Besides, it can be hard to tell if your child has an ear infection or just a cold.
It is worthwhile to look for the following things or signs:
1. Pulling or tugging on the ear(this can be due to pain)
2. Fussiness or increased crying.
3. Fever
4. A little fluid in the ear.

If your child is showing one or more of these signs, the chances are he or she may have an ear infection.

If your child has an ear infection, your doctor will let you know how to treat it. (Antibiotics may not be the answer.) Treatment may or may not include antibiotics. He may recommend “watchful waiting” to treat your child’s ear infection.

“Watchful waiting” means giving an ear infection a few days to see if it gets better on its own before prescribing antibiotics. However, any pain should be treated whether or not an antibiotic is recommended. It should be noted that most ear infections get better within a few days.

Limiting antibiotic use can help ensure medicine works when it’s needed most. When antibiotics are used too often, the bacteria they have been designed to kill in your body can adapt and grow stronger over time, which makes it harder for the antibiotic to fight.

Nonetheless, antibiotics, like all medicines, can have side effects.

Prevention and Treatment of a Child’s Ear Infection.

The most common symptom of an ear infection is pain. This is why most pediatricians and family physicians recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Children’s Tylenol whether or not your child receives an antibiotic. It is suggested that special-at-home care can help make a difference.

1. Try holding a warm, damp washcloth against your child’s ear.
2. Give plenty of fluids to keep your child hydrated if he or she has a fever.
3. Keep a close eye on your child to see if the ear infection gets better.

If fever and pain aren’t gone in a few days, follow your doctor’s specific instructions about what you are to do next.

As always, be sure to talk to your child’s doctor if you have any questions.

Here are the tips for keeping little ears healthy:
1. Breastfeed your baby, if possible, and don’t let him or her drink from a bottle while lying down.
2. Stop or limit pacifier use (sucking can pull germs the middle ear)
3. Keep your child away from cigarette smoke.
4. Protect him or her from germs, including cold and flu viruses.
5. Keep all shots (inoculations/vaccinations) current.

Boniface O. Ezeolu, M.A English (Linguistics)
B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.
Speech Pathology & Audiology (Clinical)

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