Ear infections are an unpleasant part of growing up, and your child is likely to get one or two at some point. They will probably have at least one before they turn three. Kids that go to nursery or daycare tend to be more at risk, purely because kids love sharing their germs.
While they can cause a great deal of discomfort, ear infections are often easy to treat and usually clear up after a few days. We have put together this quick guide on what ear infections are and how to heal ear infections naturally in kids.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Ear infections are widespread in babies and toddlers because their eustachian tubes are not fully formed, which makes it easier for bacteria and germs to get in. Many kids will get ear infections after a bout of the common cold or if they suffer from blocked sinuses. In all cases, fluid can build up behind the eardrum. If the fluid doesn’t drain properly, your little one will most likely get an ear infection.
No matter how old your child is, there are some telltale signs to watch out for. Toddlers will probably complain about pain, while babies will be irritable. Typical symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Irritability or restlessness
- Rubbing or pulling the ears
- Redness around the ear
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of balance
- Complaining that the ear hurts
In many cases, you should be able to treat the infection at home. The objective is to try to make your little one as comfortable as possible. However, if your child is sick or has a high fever, it would make sense to get a checkup.
In the past, antibiotics were the primary treatment, but these days, they are only recommended for kids who have more severe symptoms. For kids who have mild symptoms, some simple home treatments can make a big difference.
Warm Compress—applying warm compresses to the affected ear will help to reduce pain and make your kid feel a lot more comfortable.
Keep Hydrated—it is important that you keep your little one hydrated, so offer plenty of liquids throughout the day. Drinking can also help drain fluid from the middle ear, as swallowing causes the eustachian tube to open.
Pain Relief—If your baby is older than six months, you could try giving them acetaminophen (Tylenol). This will help reduce pain and fever.
Elevation—A slight adjustment to your baby’s head position while sleeping will improve drainage. You can place a pillow under their mattress, or, for older kids, you can give them an extra pillow.
Use a Humidifier—Having a humidifier in your baby’s room is a good idea, as it adds moisture to the air. The extra moisture can help to break down mucus and clear up any congestion.
When to See a Doctor
If your child’s symptoms don’t improve after a couple of days, you should pay a visit to your doctor. Likewise, if your child isn’t eating and has a high fever, then they may need some medical attention. In all cases, you should monitor your child’s behavior and symptoms and give your doctor a call or pop into a pharmacy for advice if you’re not sure what to do.