to comfort your kids
many parents of young children, coping with ear infections
is almost as routine as changing wet diapers. Seven
of 10 children will have at least one middle ear infection
(otitis media) by age 3. One-third of these youngsters
will have repeated bouts of ear infections.
1996 Mayo Clinic study pointed out that ear infections
are increasing. According to the report, the number
of office visits for ear infections in American children
younger than age 2 tripled between 1975 and 1990.
For children ages 2 to 5, the rate doubled.
ear infections don't lead to permanent hearing loss.
Some infections that aren't treated, however, can
spread to other parts of the ear, including the inner
ear. Infections of the middle ear can damage the eardrum,
ear bones and inner ear structure, causing permanent
hearing loss. An ear infection often begins with a
respiratory infection such as a cold. Colds cause
swelling and inflammation in the sinuses and eustachian
tubes. Children's eustachian tubes are shorter and
narrower than adults. This size makes it more likely
that inflammation will block the tube completely,
trapping fluid in the middle ear. This trapped fluid
causes discomfort and creates an ideal environment
for bacteria to grow. The result is a middle ear infection.
an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen
or acetaminophen. (If your child is younger than 2,
consult your health care provider.)
with a local anesthetic may help reduce pain. They
won't prevent or stop an infection. They should not
be used if there is drainage from the ear.
administer eardrops, warm the bottle slightly in water
and place the child on a flat surface (not in your
arms or on your lap), ear up, to insert the eardrops;
then insert a small cotton wick to retain the eardrops.
a warm (not hot), moist cloth or heating pad (on lowest
setting) over the ear.
your doctor if pain lasts more than a day or is associated
with fever. Ear infections usually are treated with
antibiotics. Even if your child feels better after
a few days, continue giving the medicine for the full
length of time recommended (usually 10 days).