If your child is complaining about an earache, it could very well be an ear infection.
An ear infection happens when fluid gets caught in the middle ear. It is often accompanied by another illness such as the common cold, flu, allergies, or other upper respiratory infections. Ear infections most often afflict children, but adults can also suffer from them.
There are a number of symptoms, all of which could be happening at once, or simply one or two at a time. Symptoms include:
- a piercing, sudden earache
- a dull, continuous earache
- a full feeling in the ear
- drainage from the ear
- impaired hearing
- difficulty sleeping
Young children may also tug at their ear, cry when laid down at night, and lack appetite.
Most ear infections heal on their own. However, be sure to call your doctor if you suspect your young child may have an ear infection, if your child has a fever of 100.4 degrees or above, or if you notice impaired hearing. Get your child to a doctor right away if the child has a stiff neck or if you are not able to console him or her.
The usual doctor-prescribed treatment for ear infection is antibiotics. If the ear infection is minor, you may treat the child at home by:
- giving the child pain medication such as Advil, Motrin, or Tylenol.
- applying a warm washcloth over the ear to soothe the ache with heat.
- making sure your child is resting more than usual.
Ear infections are common among children, but there are ways to prevent them.
- Babies who are breastfed tend to have less infections than bottle-fed babies.
- Avoid air pollution, including cigarette smoke.
- Good hygiene helps keep away the germs that cause infections. Wash those little hands often with soap and water!
- Keep pacifiers away from children older than 12 months. Pacifiers increase the risk of infection.
Adults don’t get as many ear infections because the shape and size of the tube leading to the middle ear is less likely to get clogged. However, if an adult does have symptoms of an ear infection, Hampton Family Practice can help! Give us a call today at (757) 838-6335.