|Photo Credit: Anna Karwowska|
An ear infection is caused by bacteria and is relatively easy for small children to get. Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to chronic ear infections. If you're a parent (like myself), then the odds are high that you recognize the signs of an ear infection. Some symptoms are tugging at the ear, excessive crying, fever and irritability.
Children can get an ear infection after they've had a cold or sore throat and it's very easy for that bacteria to spread through a child's Eustachian tubes. Whenever a child has a cold OR infection, the Eustachian tube can become very swollen.
Once they become swollen, and because a child's tubes are not as big as an adult's tube, it's a lot easier for fluid to build-up. When the fluid builds-up, this is what causes the pain.
If your child gets more than three ear infections within a year, this is considered to be a chronic ear infection. Ear infections that are chronic occur because the fluid build-up doesn't completely get better — or it gets better, but keeps rebounding back.
Some of the symptoms of a chronic ear infection can include low-grade fever and a feeling of pressure within your child's ear. Chronic ear infections aren't fatal (thank goodness) but they can cause the eardrum to rupture and lead to hearing loss. Very scary, huh?
Kids can get chronic ear infections because of their age, with infants and toddlers being at the highest risk (so scary). Young kids with chronic health conditions can get chronic ear infections, and being in a high risk environment (such as day care or pre-school) is also a factor because of how easily it is for the germs that cause the ear infections to spread from an infected child.
The treatment for chronic ear infections starts the same way it does for a regular ear infection. The doctor doesn't always prescribe medication right away because some ear infections will go away once the cold OR upper respiratory infection is gone.
If it doesn't, then the pediatrician might suggest draining the ear of the fluid — and in some cases, tubes are placed in the ear. The tubes are not meant to be in permanently. One medical research study suggests that the bacteria associated with chronic ear infections uses a defensive coating to resist treatment from antibiotics.
At any sign of an ear infection, always have it checked out by your child's doctor. Prevention is always best, so make sure your child practices good hygiene and ask family OR friends who have a cold or other infectious illness to please refrain from visiting until they're better.
My daughter suffered from ear infections until she was 4, luckily she didn't lose her hearing. Like most new moms, I didn't know the signs or potential dangers associated with ear infections. Hopefully this will help someone out there, as I wouldn't want you to go through what I went through for 4 years. It's not fun!