Often occurring following a cold, ear infections can plague our children and babies. Ear infections are likely caused by bacteria or viruses, leading to inflammation and swelling of the Eustachian tube. The tube then narrows and builds behind the eardrum, causing pressure and pain. Despite the discomfort and pain, there are treatments for your infant’s ear infections, and they are easier than you’d think to administer.
There are a few signs to watch for if you suspect your baby has an ear infection:
- Pulling or batting at the ear
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Fluid draining from ear
One of the best courses of action in treating infant ear infections is the administration of antibiotics. In the meantime, there are several things you can do to help alleviate your baby’s discomfort, starting with holding a warm, moist compress on the ear for 10 to 15 minutes to help alleviate pain. If your baby is 6 months or older, acetaminophen (in the proper doses) can help manage their pain. Taking a dose before bed is a great way help a fussy baby get to sleep. If a ruptured eardrum is not suspected, try placing a few drops of warm olive or sesame oil in the ear. A very easy way to help release some of the pressure in your infant’s ears is to keep them hydrated. Swallowing often will help encourage the ears to drain, thus alleviating some of that pressure. One more simple way to encourage drainage is to elevate the child’s head when they sleep, by placing a pillow or two under their mattress (never directly under their head)
Remember, of course, your baby’s health and safety is paramount. If you suspect your infant’s health is declining, or if you begin to see blood or pus dripping from their ears or see a fever of 100.4 degrees, take your baby to the doctor immediately. Pay attention to these signs, and make sure to be in contact with your doctor throughout your baby’s infection.
While many mothers assume that antibiotics are the only answer, a research review in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that over 80 percent of children will recover from an ear infection in about three days without the use of antibiotics. It’s important to note this finding, because the use of antibiotics early on in an infection can cause the bacteria in your infant’s ears to become resistant to the antibiotics, making them much more difficult to treat in the future.