During cold and flu season, you probably just accept that your child, especially if they are in daycare, is going to get sick at some point. Unfortunately, for many toddlers, a mild cold can turn into a painful ear infection when fluid gets trapped in the middle ear.
A few ear infections during the toddler years are nothing to be too concerned about. However, if your child gets ear infections repeatedly, you should talk to your pediatrician about preventative treatment options. Aside from the obvious pain and discomfort ear infections cause, chronic ear infections can lead to other problems in toddlers as well, which is why you need to know what to look for and how to respond.
Symptoms and Treatments
Most children in the United States have had at least one ear infection by their third birthday. In fact, ear infections are the second most common childhood illness after the cold.
There are a number of different symptoms to look for, which can range from very mild to severe. Common ear infection symptoms to watch for are:
- Ear Pain
- Trouble Sleeping
- Lethargy (Constantly Lying Down)
- Constant Chewing and Sucking
- Fluid Drainage from the Ear
If your child is old enough to complain, they’ll tell you their ear hurts from the inside and that should be all the confirmation you need. Otherwise, expect that they will show signs of discomfort including tugging on the affected ear.
In some cases, your child may actually have a hard time hearing out of their infected ear. Infections can also cause secondary problems like fever, nausea, dizziness and vomiting.
The only way to safely treat an ear infection is to bring your child to a doctor and have them take a look. Often, the doctor will simply prescribe some pain relief medication and send you home as ear infections can clear on their own in a few days.
Otherwise, the doctor will give you antibiotics to help treat the infection.
When Ear Infections Are Considered Chronic
One or two ear infections a year is nothing to worry about. They’re no fun to deal with, but it’s definitely not unusual for toddlers. When you begin seeing three or more in six months, you are dealing with chronic ear infections.
Sometimes, the problem is actually that your toddler had one ear infection that was never completely treated, so it keeps redeveloping.
If you think your child has chronic ear infections, you should set up an appointment at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic to have your child’s ears checked. If ear infections are allowed to continue for too long, they can result in more serious issues like problems hearing and even delays in speech.
A Simple Procedure to Prevent Future Infections
If a full course of antibiotics does not clear up the ear infection, it’s probably time to have ear tubes inserted. A middle ear infection is usually caused by a lack of ventilation. The ear can’t properly ventilate because there is fluid standing in the way. Until that fluid is completely drained, the infections will continue.
Fortunately, this simple procedure is totally safe and generally prevents further ear infections. After about a year, the tubes typically fall out on their own. By that time, the child has usually outgrown the tendency for infections.
If you’d like to learn more about this operation or if your child has just developed their first ear infection, give us a call at 503-981-5348. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have or set up an appointment for your child.