Ear Infections in Babies Part 2

The dreaded ear infection.  It usually strikes after your baby has already been sick with an upper respiratory condition such as a cold, sinus infection or allergies. Just when you think she’s recuperating, wham, she shows signs of an ear infection. Your poor sweet baby is miserable again. This is often the way it plays out when it comes to ear infections in babies.

Yesterday we explored the causes and symptoms of ear infections in babies. As soon as you recognize a sign of an ear infection, it’s important to find out if it is indeed an infection or something else. The symptoms of ear infections can also be signs of teething, digestive issues or other illnesses. But if the symptoms follow a period of nasal congestion, it’s likely to be an ear infection and it’s worth a trip to your pediatrician to find out.

Ear Infections in Babies Part 2Fortunately, ear infections are highly treatable with antibiotics. Once diagnosed, your doctor will find the right medication for your baby and she should start feeling better within a few days. It is important to complete the entire course of antibiotics to ensure the infection is completely demolished.

It is essential to treat ear infections quickly and thoroughly to avoid long term damage to the eardrum. Also, ear infections reduce vibrations in the ear that are associated with sound. When ear infections are repeatedly left untreated they may lead to hearing loss. This can delay a baby’s speech and affect her ability to speak properly throughout her lifetime.

The bad news about ear infections is that they can come back time and time again in early childhood. Until your baby’s middle ear matures, the Eustachian tube remains a breeding ground for bacterial and viral infections. And of course you don’t want your baby to take too many antibiotics at such a young age as it can impair her immune system permanently.

If your baby has repeated ear infections, your pediatrician may recommend inserting tubes in your baby’s ears. The hollow plastic structures are inserted into an incision in the eardrum to allow fluid to drain and more air to flow through the area. This should help reduce the chance of ear infections and relieve discomfort your baby may feel if she does have fluid buildup. The surgery is done by an otolaryngologist and the procedure is called a myringotomy.

Later this week we’ll examine ways to prevent ear infections to help avoid risk of ear infections in babies.

Sources: WebMD, BabyCenter and Parenting