Any experienced parent will tell you that ear infections are a fact of life — but if you’re a a new parent and you’ve never had to “watch out” for ear infections before, you might have a lot of questions. After all, you don’t want your child to be suffering — and you certainly don’t want a little problem to be ignored, and possibly turn into something more significant.
The most important thing, therefore, is the ability to recognize signs of an ear infection in your child — especially if she is too young to tell you how she’s feeling, or describe any sensations she might be feeling. So what are the telltale signs of ear infection that parents should know about, and watch out for?
Obviously, verbal indications are the biggest sign — but that’s assuming your child is old enough to tell you that his or her ear is bothering them. But even if your child can talk to you, she might not realize what’s going on.
Another key indication — something many parents don’t even consider — is fever. In young children, fever of 102 degrees or more often accompanies ear infection. Another possible sign is when a child is constantly tugging at their ear, or trying somehow to relieve discomfort by manipulating the ear with their hands. However, many doctors feel that this is not a trustworthy indicator, and recommend that parents look for other signs.
When your child lays down for a nap, or in bed at night, does she become uncomfortable or upset? Ear infections are often more uncomfortable for children when they lie down. This is because lying down results in a greater amount of pressure on the Eustachian tubes within the ear.
Here are some other signs and symptoms to look for: lack of appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea, trouble sleeping at night, and increased irritability throughout the day. If your child seems to have trouble hearing you, or responding to the voices of familiar people, this is another sign that ear infection could be an issue.
Finally — and perhaps most obviously — you should look out for any fluids or pus coming from one or both of your child’s ears. Sometimes there is excess fluid in the middle ear, which can result in a perforated or “burst” eardrum. This sounds like a terrible situation, but keep in mind that even if your child has a burst eardrum, this is a relatively minor medical condition that tends to heal itself over time.
What’s the final word on ear infections?
If there’s any conclusion to be drawn from this discussion of ear infections, it’s that they can be difficult to spot without the help of a doctor or nurse. The best parents can do is be aware of the many different possible signs and symptoms of ear infection — and if any of these are noticed, to head straight for the nearest urgent care center for a medical evaluation. Family First Urgent Care can get you right in without an appointment—at both of our locations in Oakhurst and Toms River. Your doctor may or may not prescribe antibiotics if the child is diagnosed with an ear infection — in many cases, it’s better to monitor the infection closely and allow it to resolve on its own. Visit an experienced provider at Family First Urgent Care for more information about ear infections and other common childhood illnesses. As a parent, it’s always better to stay informed!