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How to Identify and Treat a Child's Ear Infection

Ear Infections

Ear Infections In Children

What Is An Ear Infection?

There are two types of ear infections that a child could get:

1. Outer ear infection or otitis externa. A more common term for this infection is Swimmers Ear since it normally happens when infected pool water gets in your child's ear and causes an infection. The outer ear (the part you can touch with a Q Tip, becomes infected with bacteria.

2. Inner ear infections or otitis media. This is the most common ear infection. This infection is caused when bacteria and fluid get trapped in your child's ear canal. It usually happens after a viral infection like a cold or sore throat. The eustachian tube that connects your ear canal to your sinuses gets swollen and does not allow the fluid to leave the ear canal.

Both types of ear infections are caused by bacteria.

Ear Infections Are Very Painful!

Treatment For Ear Infections

Ear Infection Symptoms

How do you know if your child or baby has an ear infection? Since smaller children and babies cannot tell you what is going on, here are some things to watch out for:

  • red inside the ear
  • child is tugging on ear repeatedly
  • child says that something is in there ear (caused by fullness)
  • child says ear hurts
  • child cannot hear from ears (the ears could be so full that the child looks does not hear anything well).
  • Child looks spacey (ear fullness could cause them to feel and hear like they are in a cloud or tunnel)
  • Child puts things in ears (they are trying to relieve the pain and pressure)
  • A recent cold
  • ear drainage
  • fever
  • crying when lying down (the pain from an ear infection is worse while lying down)
  • loss of appetite

When my son was very little, he would look spacey, not sleep through the night, cry more at night, not listen and he would bite. All of this actions were unusual for him. Every time he was acting funny, I would bring him to the Doctor and they would diagnose him with an ear infection.

A Few Drops Of Warm Olive Oil In The Ear Will Help Calm The Pain

Ear Infection Treatment

Since ear infections are caused by bacteria, an antibiotic will clear it up.

Go to the doctor as soon as possible and get an antibiotic.

Your child will start to feel better within a few days.

Make sure your child takes the medicine as prescribed and finishes the bottle of antibiotics.

To ease the pain during an ear infection, you can:

  • apply heat to the infected ear
  • Use Tylenol as prescribed
  • Have them chew or suck on something, it will help relieve some of the pressure
  • Use a decongestant if the ears are full
  • feed babies upright
  • Avoid smokey areas
  • If you have an older child, have them gargle with salt water

If you would like to try a few home-remedies, here are a few tips:

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  1. Heat some coarse salt in a pan. Put the hot salt in a sock. When warm, place it on child's ear. The heat and salt will draw fluid from the infection.
  2. Mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar with 2 tablespoons warm water. Pour into a dropper. Instill 4 drops in the painful ear 4 times a day.
  3. Put three drops of room-temperature vodka into the infected ear to relieve pain and kill bacteria.
  4. Gargle with warm salt water.
  5. Chew gum with Xylitol in it. Xylitol come from birch trees, strawberries and plums. Xylitol cuts down the growth of bacteria that causes middle ear infections. Trident is a brand that has xylitol as an ingredient.
  6. Put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in infected ear. Your child will feel a tickle from the bubbles eating the germs out of their ears!
  7. Place a few drops of warm olive oil in the infected ear. Lie on your side for a few minutes. This should get rid of some of the pain.
  8. Mix one drop of peppermint essential oil with 20 drops of olive oil. Place in and around ear.
  9. Get garlic into their diet. The compounds from garlic kills bacteria and relieves inflammation. Since garlic does not rely on mimicking and interrupting the bacterias defenses (like antibiotics do) bacteria don't fight against it, so the bacteria does not become resistant to the cure!

Are Ear Infections Contagious?

Are ear infections contagious? The answer is NO! Ear infections are caused by bacteria inside the ear canal.

The ear infection is not contagious, but the virus that caused the secondary bacterial ear infection is contagious, so try not to catch your little ones cold.

I know it is easier said than done since I have small children and I have had either a cold or a sinus or ear infection for the past year!

To stop the spread of viruses:

  • wash your hands often
  • take a Vitamin C and Zinc supplement during cold season
  • teach your children to cough and sneeze into the elbow of their sleeve
  • get plenty of sleep
  • drink plenty of fluids, especially water

Recurrent Ear Infections: What's next?

If your child has repeated ear infections and antibiotics no longer do the trick, your child may need to have their adenoids removed or tubes placed in their ears.

For my son, they recommended that he have his adenoids removed.

Adenoids are lymph nodes in the nasal cavity just outside the eustachian tube.

When adenoids enlarge and are infected, they could block the eustachian tube making it difficult for fluid to drain from the ear, which in turn causes more ear infections.

The Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor recommended that he have his adenoids removed since he had more than 4 ear infections each year and his ear infections were no longer reacting to the antibiotics.

To read more about adenoid surgery, you can see my son's story here.

Some children also need tubes placed in their ears.

The Doctor will make a small incision in the ear to drain the fluid.

They then place a tiny tube in the ear to let air in to balance the inner ear fluid and air levels.

The tubes usually fall out within a year and the hole closes up.

Sometimes children will have to get the tubes put in again if they are still having problems after the tubes fall out.

My Son's Adenoidectomy


Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on March 01, 2013:

Thanks for commenting! My son had the most ear infections in the winter. It seems like the cold air made the pain worse in his ears. He usually found some comfort by wearing a hat that covered his ears while he had an ear infection.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 28, 2013:

Good hub. Something I need to know before it's too late. I haven't check my son's ear yet. Gonna check out tonight. Voted up

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