Ear infections are a common problem that young children face. The canal that connects the middle ear to the throat is a breeding ground for bacteria. In a small area (like a baby’s head), fluid collects and transfers bacteria around. As a baby grows, her inner parts enlarge and bacteria can’t traverse as easily.
As a parent, there’s nothing worse than listening to your child moan in pain. Some children are prone to ear infections more than others, and every family has a story of one child who needed tubes in their ears to keep the infections at bay. Here are the signs of ear infections so you can take action right away.
1. Crying and Irritability
It goes without saying that when your baby isn’t feeling well, she’ll get cranky and fussy. She doesn’t have the regulating skills or patience to calmly bear her illness. Her ears hurt, but she can’t tell you. Because sucking and swallowing create pressure changes in the middle ear, you may notice she cries more during or just after feedings.
2. Difficult Lying Flat
The pressure in the middle ear rises when your child is lying down, which irritates the sensitive area. You’ll notice your child will have a hard time falling asleep because the pain will wake her up, and will wake up often throughout the night.
3. Cold Symptoms
“Ear infections are almost always preceded by a cold,” says Dr. Sears. “Often a clear runny nose will turn yellow or green before an ear infection sets in.” It’s unlikely your child has an ear infection if she didn’t have a cold recently. However, infections without colds can be a pattern in some children, so it’s worth looking out for.
Fever is also a sign of an ear infection. It’s the body’s attempt to burn out the invaders. Usually these fevers are mild, around 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Often you wouldn’t notice a fever is present unless you were looking for it. It’s possible, however, for ear infections to be present without a fever or a higher fever.
5. Tugging on the Ears
Ear tugging isn’t a definite sign, but it might mean there’s an ear infection, but only if your child is more than a year old. Infants less than a year can’t localize pain, so she wouldn’t know it’s coming from her ears. Babies may also pull at their ears during teething or as a self-sooth mechanism when they’re tired.
6. Ear Drainage
If you see blood-tinged or a milky pus draining from your child’s ear, it’s likely an ear infection, but one that has ruptured the eardrum. The liquid may have a foul odor. That sounds worse than it is. Usually these ruptures heal just fine. When the rupture happens, pressure is released, so the pain
Written by Karen Barski, BSN, RN, Mother of five, Certified Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, & Inventor of the Woombie Baby Swaddle
Karen has been an RN for 18 years, and has worked in many different nursing roles. As a Certified Infant Care Specialist, Karen counsels thousands of families yearly on a multitude of issues relating to pregnancy and infancy. Also, as a mother of five, she has invaluable experience and tips to share.
Since 2007, Karen’s company, KB Designs, has invented a line of signature baby swaddle products that have helped parents easily transition their new babies from womb to home. There are multiple designs and sizes so that babies can enjoy the comfort and security of the Woombie up until the time they begin to roll.
Each product has been created and designed by Karen because of a need she identified in her life with her five children. With convenience, safety, and fashion in mind, KB Designs has helped over a half million babies and counting!
For more information, visit www.woombie.com.
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