So you think your child might have an ear infection? Sometimes it’s really hard to tell. Sometimes your child will only have cold symptoms and turn out to have an ear infection that needs to be treated by a pediatrician. Hopefully my experiences with my own children will help guide you in the right direction.
I have three small boys. Two are twins age six, and one is almost two years old. In the past couple weeks, all three of them have had ear infections. One of them even had infection in both ears!
This is the first year we’ve ever had problems with ear infections. Some children are very susceptible to these types of infections, but it has never been a problem for us in the past. So what gives!? Oh, maybe starting kindergarten.
But ear infections aren’t contagious, are they? No they are not contagious. However, ear infections are caused by colds and upper respiratory infections, and those ARE contagious. Since school started we have had cold, after cold, after cold, which have often led to ear infections.
Depending on the age of your child, there are signs to look for when suspecting an ear infection. Older children will complain of ear pain. Babies and toddlers who cannot yet speak will often tug on their ears.
Just because your child’s ear hurts doesn’t necessarily mean an ear infection, but if the ear is bothering them you should definitely have it checked out by a doctor just in case.
An ear infection can come out of nowhere, and sometimes there are not even any signs except for a bad cold. All of my boys had a really bad cough that wouldn’t go away. One was complaining of ear pain, so I took all of them to the doctor.
My one-year-old, who hadn’t complained at all about his ears, had an ear infection. My six-year-old who had been complaining about his ear did have a bad ear infection. The other six-year-old had a bad cold, but no ear infection.
The very next day he started complaining about his ears so I took him back to the doctor. Not only did he have an ear infection, but both ears were infected. It can come on that fast!
That is why children can wake up in the middle of the night with ear pain when they might have been fine when they went to bed. The doctor told me that bacteria multiplies so fast that a doctor can check a child’s ear in the morning, and by afternoon an infection is visible that wasn’t there that morning.
So what if your child does wake up in the middle of the night with ear pain? If the pain is extreme and they don’t stop crying, please take them to the emergency room. If the pain is not yet severe, there are several things that can help until morning until you can call your doctor.
You can buy ear drops that help numb the pain until you go to the doctor. They have these drops at Walmart. I used them on my boys and they work great.
The doctor says they are fine unless your child has any discharge coming out of his ear. If this is the case, don’t use the drops. I highly recommend keeping a bottle of these drops on hand.
It is okay to give your child infant or children’s Tylenol until you can get to the doctor. This can help with the pain and is what the doctor recommends for pain until the ear infection clears up.
A heating pad might help soothe your child’s pain until you can get to a doctor.
If you suspect your child has an ear infection, get your child to your pediatrician as soon as possible. This type of infection takes antibiotics to treat, and it will not go away on its own.
After your child is treated, the doctor will probably have you bring him back in a couple of weeks to make sure the infection has cleared up. If not, just watch your child and if your child is having a hard time hearing you for any reason, for instance all of the sudden not turning his head towards you when you speak to him, this could be a sign there is something wrong with his ears.
Written by Rachel Paxton.