Ear infections are common, with children more likely to experience ear infections than adults.
It is estimated that more than three quarters of all children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday, and nearly half of those will have three or more infections by then. Ear infections can affect both the inner and outer ear, with inner ear infections being the most common.
Outer ear infections are commonly referred to as Swimmer’s Ear due to extended periods of time spent in water. This type of infection usually isn’t dangerous, and most often clear up after a few days of treatment prescribed by your doctor in addition to limiting time spent in water.
Because ear infections often clear up on their own, using ibuprofen will help to relieve the pain and any accompanying fever.
An inner ear infection is most often caused by a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear, which is the space behind the ear drum. When your child has a cold, allergy, or infection of the nose or throat, it can cause a blockage in the Eustachian tube. Ear infections occur when fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear and, because of the build-up of fluid, this can lead to inflammation and can become very painful.
Symptoms of an inner ear infection in children can include:
- tugging at the ear
- poor sleep
- irritability, restlessness
- ear drainage
- diminished appetite
- crying at night when lying down
To prevent ear infections, it is recommended to:
- avoid areas where smoke is present as cigarette smoke can prevent the Eustachian tubes from working properly
- stay away from people who have colds, if possible
- wash hands regularly
- try not to touch the nose and eyes
Because ear infections often clear up on their own, using ibuprofen (Children’s Advil) will help to relieve the pain and any accompanying fever. You may also want to take your child to a doctor to ensure the infection is not serious, requiring an antibiotic.