An ear infection is one of the common reasons parents take their children to the doctor. There are two types, otitis media, which is an infection in the middle ear, and exudative otitis media, which occurs when fluid accumulates in this same area, but it is not infected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), causes of an ear infection include:
- bacteria, like Streptococcus pneumoniae y Haemophilus influenzae (unclassifiable), which are the two most common bacterial causes.
- Viruses, such as the one responsible for colds or influenza.
Mayo Clinic, non-profit organization dedicated to clinical practice, education and research, points out the different symptoms that can manifest when having an ear infection. Children are at higher risk for this condition than adults.
This is because “children have shorter and straighter Eustachian tubes than adults. This makes it difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear, even under normal conditions. If the Eustachian tube becomes inflamed or blocked with mucous, due to a cold or other respiratory illness, the fluid would not be able to drain,” explains the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Ear pain, especially when lying down.
- Pulling or tugging on an ear.
- Sleep disorders
- I cry more than normal.
- Difficulty hearing or responding to sounds.
- Loss of balance.
- Fever of 100°F (38°C) or higher.
- Fluid discharge from the ear.
- loss of appetite
In most cases, symptoms appear quickly. In case of presenting them, a doctor should be consulted to receive the appropriate professional care and alleviate the discomfort. “Antibiotics are often not needed for middle ear infections because the body’s immune system can fight the infection on its own.
However, sometimes antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, are needed to treat severe cases right away or cases that last longer than 2 to 3 days.
The Sanitas health entity points out the importance of consulting a doctor about the quality of the water before bathing and the correct drying of the ears. Also, insist on not using objects to scratch or insert them into the ear.
How to prevent an ear infection?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out some tips for preventing this condition. Likewise, it is important to teach children the importance of washing their hands frequently, coughing or sneezing into the elbow and avoiding sharing consumer items.
- Keep hands clean.
- Get flu and pneumococcal vaccines (protects against a common cause of middle ear infections, Streptococcus pneumonia).
- Do not smoke and avoid exposure to this type of smoke.
- Breastfeed exclusively until the baby is 6 months old and then continue to breastfeed for at least a year. “Breast milk contains antibodies that can protect the baby from ear infections,” notes the Mayo Clinic.
- Do not put the baby to bed at night with a bottle. “If you bottle-feed your baby, hold him upright. Don’t give him a bottle when he’s lying down. Do not put bottles in the crib next to the baby, “recommends the Mayo Clinic.
- Do not allow children who are sick to be together. It is recommended that the child attend school when he is not in good health.