More than 80% of children have experienced the pain of an ear infection by the age of three. Parents can count on the compassionate and experienced care of Dr. Paul Irra and Dr. Katarina Ondrejicka at Naples Pediatrics in Naples, Florida, any time their child shows symptoms of an ear infection. It’s important to bring your child in for an examination to verify whether they have an ear infection and to be sure they’re not at risk for a ruptured eardrum.
Ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses, such as those that cause the common cold, get into the middle ear, where they cause inflammation and a buildup of fluid that pushes on the eardrum.
Children often get ear infections because their Eustachian tubes -- the tubes that prevent air pressure from building up in the ear -- are shorter, narrower, and more horizontal than are fully developed adult ears. As a result, it’s easier for viruses and bacteria to get into their middle ears.
Even though pain is the primary symptom of an ear infection, parents may have to look for other signs in young children. Children may cry more than usual, have trouble sleeping, or have a fever. They may also show signs of hearing difficulties or they may pull at their painful ear.
If the fluid builds up too much, parents may see fluid draining from their child’s ear. Excessive fluid can rupture the eardrum. When this happens, children may feel nauseated, dizzy, or ringing in their ear.
Treatment for an ear infection may not be what you expect. Studies show that whether or not children are treated with medication, their ear infections will heal within 10 days. Since so many ear infections heal on their own, and since antibiotics may or may not speed recovery, many doctors are asking parents to observe the child for 48-72 hours. Antibiotics may be used after 72 hours if necessary.
However, it’s still important to bring your child in for an examination because there are exceptions. If the infection is severe or if it’s in a young infant, it may require immediate medication with antibiotics. Your doctor at Naples Pediatrics may also prescribe numbing drops or suggest over-the-counter pain relievers.
Children usually stop getting ear infections by the age of six. In the meantime, you can take a few steps to reduce your child’s risk of ear infections: