How to treat chronic ear infections in children

What exactly is an ear infection?

An ear infection is the blockage of the Eustachian tube, which is the narrow tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat located behind the eardrum. The blockage is a build up of fluids that becomes infected, eventually causing pain and discomfort. After a day at the pool, these are often referred to as “swimmer’s ear” but are still under the ear infections umbrella. 

Ear infections are so common in children under five years old that they account for nearly 80% of all pediatrician visits within the age group. The scientific term that doctors may use for ear infections is “otitis media” and is usually easy to treat within children. The Eustachian tubes of children are quite small and are more parallel to the middle ear compared to adults, so they are more easily clogged and infected. Take our online Eustachian tube test to see if the child’s symptoms align. 

Childhood ear infections can often occur alongside other illnesses. It’s important to see a doctor for proper treatment if any of the following at-home remedies are not working within the first couple of days. Symptoms include noticeable differences in hearing, imbalance, fever, unusual crying and fussiness, and fluid draining from the ear. 

What can I do at home to ease the pain?

If a child is in pain and you have to wait to see the pediatrician, there are some simple ways to alleviate the pain with products likely already around the house. Here are some simple ways to help children with a possible ear infection before seeing a doctor:

  • Cool set humidifier in child’s room
  • Warm compresses or hot water bottle to the ear
  • Gargling salt water
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers for children
  • Nasal spray for children
  • Ear drops (children 2+ years old)

These methods may help ease the pain, but they will not help destroy the bacteria inside the ear itself. The next step is to visit us at the Breathe Clear Institute. 

Why does my child keep getting ear infections?

Recurring ear infections are a reason to see a doctor. Typically, if your child has four or more ear infections within a twelve-month period, we recommend seeing your pediatrician or visiting our offices. Treatment will vary on the severity and frequency of the infections and customized to each individual patient.

When is it time to go beyond antibiotics and consider surgery? 

In order to avoid resistance to antibiotic therapies, surgery may be recommended. One method we use  is placing a special myringotomy tube in the child’s ear to create an opening in the tube for proper flow of air and drainage. Another option is the removal of the adenoids, otherwise known as an adenoidectomy. Both are small surgical procedures done in our offices. 

Ear infections are not contagious, so your child is welcome to return to daycare, school, or everyday interactions so long as they are feeling up for it. Treatment will continue and be monitored to ensure success. 

Let us help you find the right solution – Schedule an appointment with Breathe Clear Institute 

No one wants to see their child in pain, especially if it’s chronic. Come see us to assess your child and see what the best avenue of treatment will be.

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