When Do Children Need Tubes In Their Ears
If your child has frequent ear infections, or if he has trouble hearing because of ongoing fluid in the middle ear, he may need a tube inserted through the ear drum and into the middle ear. The tube helps to keep air pressure normal on both sides of the ear drum and helps fluid drain from the middle ear.
Putting tubes in requires a brief operation by an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Children usually go home the same day.
When You Need Themand When You Dont
Many children get ear infections. The infections are usually in the middle ear behind the eardrum. They may be caused by bacteria or by a virus. Doctors often treat bacterial infections with antibiotics. Antibiotics are strong medicines that kill bacteria.
Infants and some babies and children do need antibiotics.
But using antibiotics too often can be harmful. Heres why:
In most cases, antibiotics are not needed.
- They do not work for ear infections caused by viruses.
- They do not help the pain.
- Usually, viral infections and many bacterial infections go away on their own in two to three days, especially in children who are over two years old.
First, call the doctor and treat the pain.
If you suspect your child has an ear infection, you should call the doctors office and describe the symptoms. Usually, your doctor should ask you to wait a few days before bringing your child in.
The main sign of an ear infection is pain, especially on the first day. Or, a child may have a fever.
Start by giving your child an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as:
- acetaminophen .
- ibuprofen .
Antibiotics do not relieve pain in the first 24 hours. They only have a small effect on pain after that. So, pain relievers are an important treatment, and usually they are the only treatment needed.
When is treatment with antibiotics needed?If the infection is very painful and lasts more than a few days, chances are it is a bacterial infection.
How Do You Prevent Ear Infections
You may be able to prevent ear some ear infections if you:
- Use earplugs when swimming or diving
- Dry ears thoroughly after swimming
- Never use cotton swabs inside the ear canal
- Wash hands properly to prevent the spread of viruses
- Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds
You May Like: One Dose Antibiotic For Std
Home Remedies For Your Babys Ear Infection
We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Heres our process.
What is an ear infection?
If your baby is fussy, cries more than usual, and tugs at their ear, they may have an ear infection. Five out of six children will have an ear infection before their 3rd birthday, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders .
An ear infection, or otitis media, is a painful inflammation of the middle ear. Most middle ear infections occur between the ear drum and the eustachian tube, which connects the ears, nose, and throat.
Ear infections often follow a cold. Bacteria or viruses are usually the cause. The infection causes inflammation and swelling of the eustachian tube. The tube narrows and fluid builds behind the eardrum, causing pressure and pain. Children have shorter and narrower eustachian tubes than adults. Also, their tubes are more horizontal, so its easier for them to get blocked.
Approximately 5 to 10 percent of children with an ear infection will experience a ruptured eardrum, according to the Childrens National Health System. The eardrum usually heals within one to two weeks, and rarely causes permanent damage to the childs hearing.
Are There Alternative Treatments For Otitis Media
Complementary and alternative medical treatments are NOT recommended for ear infections in children. Home remedies for ear infections, such as olive oil and herbal extracts have not been proven to have any effect. Get a diagnosis from your pediatrician to help prevent further complications in your child.
Recommended Reading: Can You Get Antibiotics For Strep Throat Over The Counter
Symptoms Of Ear Infection
Babies and small children might:
- pull or rub their ear
- have a high temperature
- have redness around the ear
- be restless or irritable
- not respond to noises that would normally attract their attention
See your doctor if:
- your child is in pain
- there is discharge from the child’s ear
- your child is unwell or vomiting
- your child can’t hear properly
- there is swelling behind the ear and the ear is being pushed forward
- your child keeps getting ear infections
Home And Natural Remedies
Doctors usually advise caregivers to watch their child for 2 to 3 days to give the babys immune system the chance to fight off the infection without the need for antibiotics.
During this time, doctors will probably recommend that caregivers treat the symptoms of the infection at home. Remedies may include:
- Over-the-counter medication. In babies of 6 months or older, caregivers may consider giving the child acetaminophen to relieve pain or fever. Speak to a doctor before giving any medication to babies under 3 months of age.
- Warm compress. Holding a warm compress to the childs ear may also help ease the pain.
- Fluids. Giving the child plenty of fluids to drink encourages swallowing, which can help drain the middle ear and relieve painful pressure.
Recommended Reading: Antibiotics Used To Treat Mrsa Infection
Treatment For Middle Ear Infection
Symptoms of middle ear infection usually improve by themselves within 24-48 hours, so antibiotics arent often needed.
You can give your child paracetamol in recommended doses to help with pain. Your GP might suggest some anaesthetic ear drops if your child has severe pain.
If your child still has pain and is unwell after 48 hours, is particularly unwell or is less than 12 months old, your GP might prescribe a short course of antibiotics, usually penicillin.
Most children improve after a few days of antibiotic treatment, but always make sure your child finishes the whole treatment, even if she seems better. Stopping too soon could make the infection come back. Often your GP will want to see your child again when your child has finished the treatment, to make sure the infection has cleared up.
Putting cotton wool in your childs ear or cleaning discharge with a cotton bud can damage the ear. It isnt recommended.
Recurrent ear infections Some children with recurrent ear infections or glue ear might need a long course of antibiotics.
Glue ear generally improves within three months. Your GP will need to monitor your child during this time to check that its getting better.
How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting An Ear Infection
- Wash your childs hands and your own often to reduce the chance of catching a cold.
- Breastfeed your baby.
- Avoid bottle-feeding your baby when they are lying down. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
- Transition your baby from a bottle to a cup by 1 year of age.
- Dont use a pacifier too often.
- Dont smoke, and keep your child away from any secondhand smoke. Exposure to smoke can increase the risk of ear infections.
- Ensure your child gets the pneumococcal vaccine .
- Ensure your child gets a flu shot every year.
You May Like: Can You Use Triple Antibiotic Ointment On Genital Herpes
How Long Will It Take My Child To Get Better
Your child should start feeling better within a few days after visiting the doctor. If its been several days and your child still seems sick, call your doctor. Your child might need a different antibiotic. Once the infection clears, fluid may still remain in the middle ear but usually disappears within three to six weeks.
The Best Antibiotics For Ear Infections
The 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for the treatment of ear infections includes specific recommendation for which antibiotics should be used in different situations. Most ear infections do not need antibiotics at all.
If antibiotics are used, high-dose amoxicillin is the best choice for most children â along with treatment for their ear pain. If the child is allergic to amoxicillin, then Ceftin, Omnicef, or Vantin are the preferred choices. If the child is also allergic to all four of these, then Zithromax or Biaxin are the recommended alternatives. If the child with the ear infection has a fever over 102.2 F or is severely ill, then the best starting antibiotic is usually Augmentin. If the child is allergic to Augmentin, then 1 to 3 injections of Rocephin is usually the best choice.
Whatever the initial antibiotic, it should be changed if there is not clear improvement within 48 to 72 hours. High-dose Augmentin is usually the best follow-up choice. If the fever is still over 102.2, the child is severely ill, or allergic to Augmentin, then three days of Rocephin injections are recommended. If the child is allergic to Rocephin, then clindamycin is the antibiotic of choice. These guidelines can help many children avoid unnecessary rounds of ineffective antibiotics.
Don’t Miss: Can Online Doctor Prescribe Antibiotics
What Is Acute Otitis Media
Acute Otitis Media is an infection in one or both ears. An acute ear infection is a short-term and painful ear infection that may come on rapidly. This is in contrast to a Chronic Ear Infection that may last a longer time, come and go, and lead to permanent hearing damage.
- Acute otitis media is a swelling and infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is located just behind the eardrum. The eustachian tube in the middle ear drains fluid away from the middle ear.
- When fluid builds up in the eustachian tube, it can lead to an increase in pressure on the eardrum, which results in pain. The ear can become infected with bacteria, which can grow in the trapped fluid behind the eardrum.
- Ear infections are common in infants and children because the eustachian tubes are more narrow and horizontal and can become easily clogged.
Image: Harvard Health Guide, June 2020
Ear infections can be more common in children who also have a cold due to a virus. Symptoms of an ear infection may begin during the 3rd to 7th day of a cold. Children with an ear infection usually also have a runny nose and nasal congestion. Mild hearing loss may occur, but it is usually temporary. However, if hearing loss lasts an extended period of time, it may cause problems with speech, language and learning.
Where Can I Find Additional Information About Ear Infections
The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.
Use the following keywords to help you search for organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information on ear infections:
Read Also: Antibiotics For Lyme Disease In Dogs
How Is An Ear Infection Treated
Treatment of ear infections depends on age, severity of the infection, the nature of the infection and if fluid remains in the middle ear for a long period of time.
Your healthcare provider will recommend medications to relieve you or your childs pain and fever. If the ear infection is mild, depending on the age of the child, your healthcare provider may choose to wait a few days to see if the infection goes away on its own before prescribing an antibiotic.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacteria are thought to be the cause of the ear infection. Your healthcare provider may want to wait up to three days before prescribing antibiotics to see if a mild infection clears up on its own when the child is older. If your or your childs ear infection is severe, antibiotics might be started right away.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended when to prescribe antibiotics and when to consider waiting before prescribing based on your childs age, severity of their infection, and your childs temperature. Their recommendations are shown in the table below.
American Academy of Pediatrics Treatment Guide for Acute Otitis Media
|in one or both ears||Mild for < 48 hours and temp < 102.2° F||Treat with antibiotic OR observe. If observe, start antibiotics if child worsens or doesnt improve within 48 to 72 hours of start of symptoms|
What Medicines Treat Otitis Media
Some children will get better without specific antibiotic treatment, as many ear infections are viral in nature and do not need an antibiotic. However, doctors typically prescribe antibiotics in infants under 6 months of age, and for recurrent ear infections or severe symptoms. However, using antibiotics too often can cause bacteria to become resistant to the medicine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend a “wait-and-see” approach for children:
- 6 to 23 months of age with a temperature less than102.2 F and middle ear pain in one ear for less than 48 hours
- 24 months and older with mild middle ear pain in one or both ears for less than 48 hours and a temperature less than 102.2 F
Parents will follow-up with the doctor in 2 to 3 days with the wait-and-see approach. Some doctors will still prescribe antibiotics in children under 2 years with AOM. In more serious cases in older children, when there is recent high fever, both ears are affected, or ear drainage, an antibiotic treatment may be appropriate. Talk with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of using antibiotics.
Antibiotic choice should be based on effectiveness, patient-specific needs like allergies, taste or dosage form preference, dosing convenience and cost. Its important to remember that although most antibiotics used for ear infections are very safe, there may still be side effects such as diarrhea or rash from antibiotic use.
Don’t Miss: Why Should We Care About Antibiotic Resistance
Can I Prevent An Ear Infection
Vaccines are available to help minimize ear infections in children, and are part of the normal routine vaccine schedule for pediatrics. Children should be immunized against the common bacteria that cause middle ear infections. Be sure your child gets the required pneumococcal and Haemophilus vaccines. In addition, most children 6 months and older should receive a seasonal influenza vaccine each year.
What Antibiotic Side Effects Should Parents Look Out For
As many as one out of 10 kids have side effects from taking antibiotics. Let your doctor know if your child has any of the following symptoms after using antibiotics:
- Watery diarrhea
- Diarrhea with blood in it
- Itchy rash or hives
Seek medical attention immediately if your child has a more serious reaction to antibiotics, including:
- Blistering skin
- Swelling of the face and throat
- Breathing problems
- Severe and persistent diarrhea
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Read Also: Kidney Infection Treatment With Antibiotics
Home Remedies For Baby Ear Infection
Place a moist, warm compress on the kids ear for around 10-15 minutes. This will help in reducing the pain.
In case no fluid is draining from the ear of your child and there is no suspicion of eardrum rupture, then put a couple of drops of slightly warm or room temperature sesame oil or olive oil in the ear having infection.
As a part of baby ear infection treatment, make sure that your child is adequately hydrated. Offer them fluids very often. The act of swallowing fluids can help in opening the blocked Eustachian tube, thereby, enhancing the drainage of trapped fluids.
Elevate the Head of Baby
Elevate the head of the crib slightly to improve drainage of sinuses of your baby. Instead of placing pillows under the head of your baby, place them beneath the mattress.
Use Homeopathic Eardrops
Extracts of garlic, lavender, mullein, St. Johns wort and calendula in olive oil are present in homeopathic ear drops and they help in relieving pain and inflammation.
When to Visit the Physician
Visit the physician if the following signs and symptoms are present in your child:
- Fever greater than 100.4 degree F in case your infant is less than three months old, and greater than 102.2 degree F if your kid is older than three months.
- Discharge of pus or blood from ears.
Moreover, if your child has infection of ear and it does not get better after 3-4 days, then visit a physician.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Very rarely, ear infections that don’t go away or severe repeated middle ear infections can lead to complications. So kids with an earache or a sense of fullness in the ear, especially when combined with fever, should be seen by their doctors if they aren’t getting better after a couple of days.
Read Also: Long Term Antibiotic Treatment For Copd
Causes Of Acute Middle Ear Infection
An acute middle ear infection is most often caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold Common Cold The common cold is a viral infection of the lining of the nose, sinuses, and throat. Many different viruses cause colds. Usually, colds are spread when a person’s hands come in contact with… read more . Acute infection may also be caused by bacteria that sometimes normally reside in the mouth and nose. Bacteria that affect newborns include Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Bacteria that affect older infants and children include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis. An infection initially caused by a virus sometimes leads to a bacterial infection.