Earaches typically result from viral or bacterial ear infections, and commonly occur in children between 6 months and 2 years old. At this age, it can be difficult for your child to communicate their problems to you verbally. This is why it is important to be aware of the telltale signs that your child is suffering an earache.
If your child seems restless, repeatedly touches their ears, tries to cover them, and/or is sensitive to having her ears touched by others, chances are that they have an earache. Children’s Eustachian tubes are more horizontal than adults’ making them more prone to blockage and infection.
With or without the aid of surgically implanted ear grommets, most children grow out of periodic ear infections by age 2-4. If ear infections become chronic at any time in late infancy through toddlerhood and early childhood, an ear, nose, throat doctor may recommend ear grommets. Earaches are incredibly painful, and it can be difficult to watch your child go through them.
Go to the ENT Specialist
This is not like a cold or cough; you should not wait to see if it goes away. Ear infections can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Either way, it is time to make an appointment with your child’s ear, nose, and throat doctor as soon as possible.
By examining your child’s ears, the doctor will be able to tell whether it is a bacterial or viral infection. For a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed. Unfortunately, viral infections have to just run their course, but the doctor should prescribe some eardrops to help drain fluid from the middle ear and relieve pressure and pain. Draining this fluid should also help hasten your child’s recovery.
Care at Home
Ear infections are not contagious, so you will not have to worry about keeping your child home from daycare or school. However, these infections are very painful, and your child will need to rest to get healthy again.
Cloudy Fluids or Pus
If at any point you see cloudy fluids or pus draining from your child’s ear, call the doctor as soon as possible. These signs could mean that the infection is getting worse or even that your child’s eardrum has ruptured due to infection.
Fortunately, a ruptured eardrum is not as dire as it might sound. You will want to seek medical attention to assess if antibiotics need to be prescribed or if any other treatment is necessary.
In most cases, a ruptured eardrum will heal on its own within about 3 months, after the underlying infection is managed. Just be sure to follow all of the doctor’s instructions, administer all medication that the doctor prescribes, and don’t use any medications without consulting with your child’s doctor first.
In general, ear infections are an unpleasant fact of life, and most children get them. If you follow the doctor’s instructions, you and your child will get through this difficult time.
If you have questions or concerns about ear surgery contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see an Ear Nose Throat Specialist.