Getting an ear infection is so common among children that it’s almost like a right of passage. Most children will have their first ear infection before they’re even old enough to talk.

An ear infection is caused by bacteria and is relatively easy to get. Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to chronic ear infections. If you’re a parent, then the odds are high that you recognize the signs of an ear infection. Some of the symptoms are tugging at the ear, crying, fever and irritability.

Kids can get an ear infection after they’ve had a cold or sore throat and it’s easy for that bacteria to spread through a child’s Eustachian tubes. Whenever a child has a cold or infection, the Eustachian tube can become swollen.

Once they become swollen, and because a child’s tubes are not as big as an adult’s tubes, it’s a lot easier for fluid to build up. When the fluid builds up, this is what causes the pain.

If your child gets more than three ear infections within twelve months, this is considered to be a chronic ear infection. Ear infections that are chronic occur because this fluid build up doesn’t completely get better – or it gets better, but keeps rebounding back.

Some of the symptoms for a chronic ear infection can include a low-grade fever and a feeling of pressure within the ear. Chronic ear infections aren’t fatal but they can cause the eardrum to rupture and lead to hearing loss.

Kids can get chronic ear infections because of their age, with infants and toddlers being at the highest risk. Young kids with chronic health conditions can get chronic ear infections, and being in a high risk environment (such as day care) is also a factor because of how easily it is for the germs that cause the ear infections to spread from an infected child.

The treatment for chronic ear infections starts the same way it does for a regular ear infection. The doctor doesn’t always prescribe medication right away because some ear infections will go away once the cold or upper respiratory infection is gone.

If it doesn’t, then the pediatrician might suggest draining the ear of the fluid – and in some cases, tubes are placed in the ear. The tubes are not meant to be in permanently. One medical research study suggests that the bacteria associated with chronic ear infections uses a defensive coating to resist treatment from antibiotics.

At any sign of ear infection, always have it checked out by your doctor. Prevention is always best, so make sure your child practices good hygiene and ask family or friends who have a cold or other infectious illness to please refrain from visiting until they’re better.

Filed under: Parenting