Ear infections can be incredibly painful and produce symptoms that interfere with daily activity. Children are especially likely to develop ear infections and often need to be treated to prevent complications or long-term damage to the ear.
Middle Ear Infections
The term “ear infection” most often refers to an infection of the middle ear, a small area located behind the eardrum. When germs get trapped in this area due to swollen Eustachian tubes, infections can occur. Eustachian tubes connect the ear to the throat and often swell during a cold. Children have smaller tubes; therefore, they are most likely to develop ear infections.
Ear Infection Symptoms
The most common and obvious symptom of an ear infection is an earache. Young children who have ear infections may cry, have trouble sleeping, experience a fever, or pull at their ears. If the infection is severe enough, yellow fluid may come from the ear indicating that the eardrum has burst. Luckily, most eardrums will heal without medical intervention.
Ear Infection Risk Factors
Certain factors make a child more susceptible to ear infections:
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Not receiving vaccinations
- Not properly washing ears
- Attendance in childcare
- Frequent colds or other sicknesses
- Sleeping while sucking on a bottle
Ear Infection Treatments
Although most ear infections will heal without medication, but a doctor will need to examine the child to gauge the level of severity. By looking in the ears, the doctor can determine whether antibiotics are necessary. However, antibiotics are nearly always recommended for children under 24 months of age or who are not otherwise healthy.
Pain caused by ear infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, with heat to the ear (like a warming pad), or doctor-prescribed ear drops. Fluid usually stay in the ear for several weeks after the ear infection is gone, which may cause some temporary hearing impairment. If repeat infections occur, especially if they impact hearing, surgery to put “tubes” in the ears may be necessary.
Does your child have an ear infection?
Jean Brown Research is currently conducting a clinical study to assess the effectiveness of an investigational medication used to treat pain caused by ear infections. Participants must be 2 months to 12 years of age, in otherwise good health, must not have an elevated fever of 102 degrees or higher, and have a clinical diagnosis of an ear infection.
Qualified participants will receive a no-cost examination and investigational medication. Learn more about the ear infection clinical study here.