For all the parents, it is extremely obvious to become worried if there is even a slight change in the health of their baby. No matter how conscientious and well aware they are, the baby is bound to come down with cold at least once in his first year and it could lead to an infection in the ear. So, here is everything you need to know about the ear infection and its treatments.
What is an ear infection?
An ear infection (Otitis Media) is a painful inflammation of middle ear. It mostly occurs between the ear-drum and the Eustachian tube which connects the ears, nose, and throat.
Ear infections are usually followed by cold caused due to bacteria or viruses. The infection causes inflammation and swelling of the Eustachian tube resulting in narrowing of the tube and building up of fluid behind the eardrum and further being infected. This causes pressure and pain. Since the Eustachian tube of the babies is shorter and horizontal, it is easier to get blocked.
Symptoms of Ear infection:
Some common symptoms of ear infection in your baby are:
- Pulling or scratching or batting the ear
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Fluid draining from ear
- Severe case of ear infection could cause dizziness
Treatments for ear infection:
Based on the severity of infection and age of your child, the treatments for ear infection could vary.
Pain Relief: If the ear infection is caused by viruses, antibiotics won’t help. Instead, some pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen could be given to reduce fever.
Antibiotics: In case of bacterial infection, if your baby is younger than 6 months or if your child has severe symptoms of ear infection or if your child is younger than 24 months and having mild symptoms in both the ears, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics. But most of the ear infections can be cured without medication. In some cases, your doctor might advise you on watchful waiting which is waiting to see if your child develops severe symptoms before giving any medication.
Drainage: If the ear infection causes serious complications or the fluid remains in the ear for a long time or if the infection keeps recurring, your doctor might suggest myringotomy. In this procedure, a small hole is created in eardrum so the fluids are drained out and also he might put a tube so it won’t get backed up again. The tube usually falls out on its own within 6 to 18 months.
Though natural remedies or home remedies can’t cure the ear infection, they could ease the symptoms of ear infections.
Warm Compress: Placing a warm, moist compress gives comfort to your child by reducing the pain in the ear.
Warm oil: If no fluid is drained and rupture of ear-drum is not suspected, put a few drops of warm or room temperature olive oil or sesame oil in the infected year. This relieves the pain to a certain extent.
Stay hydrated: Drinking fluids and swallowing opens the blocked eustachian tube and helps in draining out the trapped fluids.
Homeopathic ear-drops: The drops containing extracts of garlic, lavender, mullein, calendula, and St. John’s wort in olive oil could relieve your baby from the inflammation and pain.
Elevate your baby’s head: Elevating the head of the baby helps in sinus drainage and therefore relieving pressure and pain in the ear.
Prevention of Ear infection:
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding your baby for at least 6 months could boost the immunity of your baby and protect him against ear infections.
Bottle-feed upright: Keep your baby in semi-upright or upright position while feeding to avoid the flow of formula into the Eustachian tube.
Avoid secondhand smoke: Exposure to smoke increases the risk of infection. Avoid taking your baby to smoky areas. Also, avoid exposing your child to tobacco smoke.
Vaccinations: Keep your baby up-to-date on his vaccinations. This boosts his immunity and reduces the risk of getting any infections
Healthy Environment: Avoid exposing your child to cold and fever bugs. Also, if anyone is sick in your household, take all the precautions to avoid infecting your baby.
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