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Ear Infection? Maybe Your Kid Really Can't Hear You!

By Natalie Jewell

Otherwise known as otitis media, ear infections are a painful condition that, unfortunately, is very common in children between six months and 3 years of age. As a mom to two older sons who suffered from them as tiny tots, I know all too well how heartbreaking it can be to see your child crying in pain.  

Speaking from experience, your child may have an ear infection if they exhibit the following: 

  • High fever
  • Tugging at the ears
  • Fussiness and crying
  • Reduced appetite
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Fluid draining from ears
  • Restlessness and insomnia
  • Sore or clogged ears (older child)

Response

If you think your child may have otitis media, you should have them seen by their doctor, who will ask you about symptoms you've observed and perform an exam. To see if see if any fluid, redness, bulging, or perforation of the eardrum is present, they will use an instrument called an otoscope. A hearing test may be performed also.

If otitis media is present, your doctor may recommend pain and fever medication, placing warm compresses on your child's ears, administering ear drops, or prescribe antibiotics. If ear infections are recurring, your child may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist who may recommend and perform surgery to put tubes in your child's ears. This can help normalize pressure around the eardrum and drain fluid from the middle ear. Your child's adenoids may be removed also if they are enlarged.

Afflicting the Young

So, why exactly are babies and young children prone to developing ear infections? Basically, it's because the eustachian tube, which runs from the middle ear to the back of the throat, is shorter and more horizontal in wee ones. This makes it more likely to become swollen and trapped with fluid, which can lead to infection.  

Some of the risk factors which can contribute to the eustachian tube becoming swollen or blocked, and your child developing ear infections are:  

  • Being six months to 3 years old
  • Being bottle-fed, especially while lying down
  • Using a pacifier
  • Attending daycare
  • Having a cold, flu, sinus infection, or allergies
  • Being around cigarette smoke
  • Being exposed to high levels of air pollution
  • Experiencing changes in altitude, such as when flying  

So, what can you do to try to prevent your child from developing otitis media?  

  • Wash hands frequently to reduce the chance of getting a cold or flu
  • Wash or wipe down toys and play areas regularly
  • Make your home a smoke-free zone  
  • Consider flu and pneumococcal shots for your child
  • Breastfeed infants instead of bottle feeding them, if possible
  • Avoid giving your baby a pacifier
  • Choose in-home care or a smaller daycare setting if possible

So, if your child is complaining of boo-boos in their ears, follow the advice above. They’ll be grinning from ear to ear again in no time.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Wichita.

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