Ear Infection Symptoms: Kids

Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections, especially middle ear infections. In fact, more than 80% of children will have an ear infection before age three. It’s not just due to the fact kids are more likely to insert foreign objects in their ears than the average adult. They also tend to have weaker immune systems and smaller eustachian tubes, which means fluid behind the eardrum takes longer to drain.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

Children and adults experience ear infections differently. In younger kids (remember, weaker immune systems and ears that store fluid like buckets), an ear infection might be obvious: blood, pus, or fluid draining out of the ear is a sure sign something’s amiss behind the eardrum. But ear infections can also present as a fever clearing a 100ºF (37.8º).

Children might cry, fiddle with their ear, or tell you their ear hurts. Lying down in bed may worsen their pain. You may even notice that your kid is unusually clumsy (since the organ that controls balance is part of the inner ear) or is hard of hearing, too.

In adults, earaches don’t usually cause fevers, but they can cause nausea and pain (both sharp and dull) in the ear. A sense of fullness or muffled hearing is also common.

When Does An Ear Infection Need Medical Attention?

Some ear infections will resolve on their own, but many won’t. When an ear infection rages on untreated or frequently recurs, other parts of the ear and even the brain can become infected – which is just as dangerous as it sounds. Permanent damage to the eardrum (when pressure builds up, the membrane of the eardrum can be stressed until it ruptures) and hearing loss can also occur. In children whose speech is still developing, this sort of damage can delay normal milestones in language learning. Put simply, ear infections shouldn’t be ignored, especially in kids.

Whenever you suspect that your elementary school aged child has an ear infection, you should pay careful attention. If you’re not seeing any improvement after a few hours, their pain looks severe or is worsening, their fever is over 101 degrees, or the eardrum is leaking any fluid, it’s time for a checkup. Symptoms that you should never wait and watch from home include hearing loss, pain, or dizziness that comes on suddenly and severely; stiff neck; or lots of visible redness and swelling around the ear. These are potential signs of more serious conditions that demand immediate medical attention. In adults, ear pain that doesn’t go away after a few days or is accompanied by a fever also warrants professional care.

An urgent care center is ideal for ear infections: you could be waiting hours at a city emergency room, and pediatricians get booked solid with flu cases this time of year. When your child’s in pain, nothing’s more important than speedy relief. Urgent care centers can rapidly diagnose serious problems and fast-track you to emergency care if it’s necessary. With the option to book round-the-clock same-day appointments online, you don’t have to mess up your schedule to treat a nagging earache.

How Are Ear Infections Treated?

After examining the ear with an otoscope (in essence, a very expensive flashlight that fits in the ear) or inserting a small microphone nested in a soft earplug to measure the movement of the eardrum (neither of which are invasive or painful), your urgent care professional may prescribe medications to reduce ear pain or services to drain the fluid buildup. When the ear infection is severe (high fever, relentless pain), antibiotics might be recommended right off the bat.

If your child suffers from recurring ear infections, a doctor might suggest ear tubes, small cylinders surgically implanted (commonly an outpatient procedure) inside the ear for fluid to drain. This decision takes some planning but can prevent permanent hearing loss and make speech and heighten auditory recognition.

Natural Remedies to Try at Home

  • Natural oils/Essential oils: tea tree (melaleuca) and garlic oil have been used for centuries to stop infections of all kinds. Coconut oil to is a natural antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal oil that is safe for use in children.
  • Chiropractic care: chiropractic adjustments have been clinically effective when used to treat ear infections. Since the nervous system controls almost every single body function, misalignments can cause inner and middle ear issues. Typically a series of treatments and adjustments are needed for the treatment to be effective.
  • Allergies: dairy, nuts, gluten and some fruits have been known to cause infections that spread to the ear canal. This a more common cause in infants and toddlers more than adults. Be sure to get a allegen screening at your next check-up!

Source: Go Health