Ear Infections in Babies Part 1

Ear infections in babies are quite common. In fact, approximately 50% of babies have had an ear infection by their first birthday. This week we’re talking about the causes, symptoms, treatments, risks and prevention methods for ear infections in babies.

Causes of Ear Infections in Babies

Ear infections occur when fluid builds up behind the ear drum. This can happen because the normal channel for fluid to pass through the middle ear, the Eustachian tube which connects to the back of the throat, may be blocked thereby trapping fluid. Germs including bacteria and viruses are often introduced through the throat into the Eustachian tubes. Babies have short, wide and flat Eustachian tubes, which causes fluid to sit in the warm, dark, damp areas of the middle ear where bacterial or viral infections can grow.

Often an ear infection follows an upper respiratory issue such as a common cold, sinus infection or allergy flare-up. The excessive fluids you notice from a runny nose, spitting up mucus or watery eyes are also dripping into your baby’s ears. The fluid builds up behind the eardrum, causing an infection. As the inflammation increases, it can be quite painful to your baby.

Ear Infections in Babies Part 1Symptoms of Ear Infections in Babies

Because ear infections in babies are so common, it’s smart for parents to be on the lookout for signs that your baby may have one, especially after a cold, sinus infection or during allergy seasons. You may notice that your baby’s runny nose turns from clear to yellow or green. That’s a sign of infection.

In addition to a drippy nose, your baby may have eye drainage. When the two are combined, ear infection is the likely diagnosis. Some babies even get a yellowy drainage from their ears that may be accompanied by a bad smell, although these symptoms are less common.

Increased crankiness and waking frequently at night are symptoms of an ear infection. Ear infections can be painful and your baby is not able to explain or understand her plight. Lying down may exacerbate the pain because it puts extra pressure on the eardrum and doesn’t allow fluids to drain. If you notice your baby has one more painful side, try to lie her down with that ear up.

Also, your baby may or may not have a fever with an ear infection. She’s more likely to have a higher fever with whatever illness causes the ear infection than with the ear infection itself. Even if she does have an elevated temperature, it’s her body’s way of trying to fight the infection so that’s a positive sign that her immune system is activating properly.

Many parents notice babies tug on their ears when they have an ear infection. This can be a sign of an ear infection as your baby is trying to get to the bottom of the source of pain. Ear tugging may also be a sign of teething or just a fun activity that your baby enjoys.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more important information on ear infections in babies.

Sources: WebMD, BabyCenter and Parenting