Ear infections in babies and young children are very common, and they are a lot more common with kids than with adults. This primarily occurs because of the way a child's ears are structured, and most kids that get chronic ear infections typically outgrow them. If your child gets an ear infection, you should not worry too much; however, your doctor may be concerned if the child gets them often. Here are three things to know about ear infections in kids.
How They Occur
Ear infections occur when the middle part of the ear becomes inflamed. This can happen to one ear, or it can happen to both at the same time. There are three main types of ear infections, but acute otitis media is the most common type. This type occurs when fluid gets trapped behind the child's eardrum. This can cause the child to experience pain, and it may result in the child developing a fever.
When babies get ear infections, the parents typically do not even know until they visit the doctor. If you see your infant tugging on his or her ears, or if he or she has a fever, you may want to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician to get examined. A pediatrician will look inside the child's ears with a special tool, and this is the way the doctor will diagnose the condition.
In some cases, the ears will not yet be infected, but the doctor might notice a lot of fluid around the eardrums. If there is a lot of fluid, the child might soon develop an infection, but your doctor is not likely to treat the condition unless he or she is certain there is an infection present.
How They Are Treated
Ear infections are treated just like any other type of bacterial infection–with antibiotics. Antibiotics are great for treating ear infections, because they are able to target the bacteria and eliminate it from the body. There is a downside to this, though.
Taking too many antibiotics is not good for babies, kids, or adults. Each time a person takes an antibiotic, the medication removes bacteria from the body. While the medication is generally good for removing the bacteria causing the ear infection, it can also remove good bacteria from the body. This can leave a person with other health issues, including gastrointestinal problems.
The other problem with taking too many antibiotics is it can cause a person to become immune to the medication. If this happens and a person gets a bad bacterial infection, taking an antibiotic may no longer help.
How Doctors Treat Chronic Ear Infections In Kids
When a child gets ear infections often, the pediatrician might refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. Usually a doctor will make this referral if a child has three or more ear infections within a six-month time frame. Doctors do this primarily to solve the problem causing the ear infections, and to prevent the child from taking too many antibiotics.
An ENT may recommend placing tubes in the child's ears. This is a very common procedure, but it will require the use of anesthesia. When tubes are placed in the ears, they will help the child's ears drain fluid properly. After the procedure is complete, your child may never have an ear infection again.
Choosing to have tubes placed in your child's ears could help you protect his or her ears from hearing loss, and it could help prevent your child from going through the pain he or she experiences from ear infections.
If your child is acting different or tugging on his or her ears, you may want to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician. This is a great way to find out if there is a problem, and it will offer a way to help the child feel better. For more information, contact a practice like Entira Family Clinics.