Many children and their parents are all too familiar with earaches. One of the most common causes of this is an ear infection, which occurs when fluids build up behind the eardrum and cause inflammation in the middle ear.
Otolaryngologists at Charleston ENT & Allergy are here to help when it comes to diagnosing and providing the highest quality treatments for ear infections. We can help provide your child with relief from constant ear pain.
Does My Child Have an Ear Infection?
If they haven’t learned to talk yet, your child won’t be able to tell you that their ear hurts. Keep an eye out for these behaviors:
- Pulling at an ear
- Not responding to sounds
- Crying more than usual
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of balance
- Trouble sleeping
Why Do Children Get Ear Infections So Frequently?
Because the Eustachian tube is smaller in children, it is more prone to swelling; when this occurs, fluid is trapped in the middle ear. This fluid presses against the eardrum, causing pain, and can harbor germs that lead to infection.
Additionally, because it’s still developing, a child’s immune system sometimes has a harder time fighting infections.
How Doctors Diagnose Ear Infections in Children
Your doctor will take a health history and ask about the severity, length and impact of your child’s symptoms. Are they pulling at their ear or not responding to sounds? Have they had trouble sleeping?
Next, our provider will examine your child’s ear using an instrument called an otoscope to visualize the eardrum. A swollen red eardrum is indicative of an infection.
Additional diagnostic tests include examining the ear with a pneumatic otoscope, which checks for fluid behind the eardrum, and tympanometry, which measures the eardrum’s flexibility.
How Are Pediatric Ear Infections Treated?
Our ENT may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe antibiotics. In cases where an ear infection can’t be definitively diagnosed, your doctor may wait before prescribing antibiotics. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines in 2013 encouraging doctors to wait before recommending antibiotics in cases where ear infections can’t be definitively diagnosed since some ear pain isn’t caused by infection. If symptoms do not improve within several days, the guidelines recommend starting antibiotics.
What If My Child Has Reoccurring Ear Infections?
If your child experiences frequent ear infections that antibiotics don’t seem to help with, our ENT might recommend surgery to insert small tubes into the eardrums. This will prevent fluid backup in the middle ear, which will reduce the risk of infection. Typically, ear tubes stay in place for six to nine months.
If our provider determines this is the best course of treatment for your child, they’ll explain what to expect before, during and after the procedure and answer any questions your family has.
We’re Here To Help
As a parent, it’s difficult to see your child suffer from ear infections, but we’re here to support your family during this time. We’ll determine if their discomfort is the result of an infection and provide the best treatment for it, guiding your child on the path to recovery.