Ear infections are very common in infants and younger children. These infections, usually caused by bacteria from a sore throat, cold, or other upper respiratory infection spreading to the child’s ear, can cause much pain for your child. But, when your children can’t talk just yet or they can’t verbalize what’s going on with their bodies, how can you tell if they have an ear infection? First, we have to start by explaining the three different types of ear infections.
An acute otitis media (AOM) ear infection is the most common type. When your child has an AOM infection, parts of the ear are infected and swollen and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum. This causes pain in your child’s ear and they could also have a fever. An otitis media with effusion ear infection comes after an ear infection has come and gone, but there is still fluid behind the eardrum. The OME infection could be present without any symptoms at all. The third type of ear infection, chronic otitis media with effusion, occurs when fluid stays behind the middle ear for long periods of time. This can make it harder for your child to fight new infections, and it can also affect their hearing.
Although you won’t be able to properly diagnose your child with a specific type of ear infection without taking them to their pediatrician, you can look for some signs of an ear infection in general. Here are four signs that your child may be dealing with an ear infection:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Fussiness, crying, and trouble sleeping
- Fever and/or fluid drainage from the ear
- Clumsiness and/or trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds
If your child is experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, it is time to bring them in to see a pediatrician. Once treated, it is not uncommon for an ear infection to return, especially if your child catches another cold or other infection. Some ways to prevent an ear infection from returning are to wash your hands frequently to prevent spreading bacteria to your child, don’t allow your child to be exposed to cigarette smoke, never put your baby down to sleep with a bottle, and don’t allow your child to spend time around other children who may be sick.
Pediatric Partners can help you when you need it the most. We know how miserable it can be for your baby to deal with an ear infection and for you to deal with a sick baby, so we have three locations to better serve our patients. Our Evans office is located at 411 Town Park Blvd., our downtown Augusta office is located at 1303 d’Antignac Street, Suite 2600, and our Grovetown office is located at 5135 Wrightsboro Rd. You can also call us at 706-854-2500.