By: Izak H. Kielmovich, M.D., Specializing in Pediatric Otolaryngology

Izak-Kielmovitch-2011_0794After your child has a cold or upper respiratory tract infection, you should remain on the lookout for a possible ear infection. A middle ear infection, scientifically known as acute otitis media, can take place when the Eustachian tube (which connects the middle ear to the nose) swells up and becomes blocked, causing fluid to build up and become infected over time.

Ear infections are common in young children and easy to treat once diagnosed. Parents should look out for warning signs and follow a few simple steps to preventing ear infections in the future.

Symptoms of Middle Ear Infections

  • Earache, which may include your child tugging at the infected ear
  • Fever
  • Yellow fluid coming from the ears
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Change of balance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Often follows a cold or other respiratory illness

Diagnosis

When diagnosing a middle ear infection, I use a tool that allows me to see if there is fluid building up behind the eardrum. I also check the mobility of the ear drum.

Treatment of Middle Ear Infections
Although some parents decide to let the ear infection get better on its own, I frequently recommend antibiotics. We typically prescribe Amoxycillin, and suggest that you treat your child’s earache with over-the-counter pain relievers. In the meantime, you can apply heat to the ear and be sure your child gets the rest he or she needs. If symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, we may re-examine your child.

How to Prevent Middle Ear Infections
Children who were not breastfed or who are constantly exposed to large groups of other children may be more at risk for ear infections. However, there are several precautions you can take to keep your child healthy:

  • Make sure your child does not go to sleep or lie down flat with a bottle in his or her mouth.
  • Wash dirty toys in hot water.
  • Don’t allow sick children to share food, drinks, toys and utensils.
  • Teach your child the importance of washing his or her hands.
  • Avoid smoking in your child’s vicinity.
  • Keep surfaces clean by disinfecting them regularly.
  • Try to keep ill children at home in order to prevent other children from getting sick.

Most ear infections can be easily treated after they have been diagnosed. If your child exhibits any of the above symptoms, be sure to make an appointment at the Ear, Nose, Throat & Plastic Surgery Associates. To learn more, check out the Pediatric Otolaryngology page on this site.