(KUTV) After the common cold, ear infections are the most commonly diagnosed illness for American kids. They usually happen between six months and two years of age, and start with sinus congestion from a viral-type cold.
“The tube that drains the inner-ear to the sinuses gets inflamed and it’s hard for any fluid in the inner-ear to drain out because of that inflammation,” says Dr. Danny Sandgren, pediatrician at Intermountain Budge Clinic in Logan, Utah.
This creates an environment for bacteria to grow, causing an infection.
Some factors can increase a child’s risk of developing an ear infection. These include things like: living in a high-pollution area, not being up to date on vaccinations, exposure to second-hand smoke, or not being breastfed.
“Breastfed babies have less frequency of ear infections,” says Dr. Sandgren.
If a child has an ear infection you will know because they will either tell you their ear hurts, or if it’s a younger child, their behavior will change. Symptoms to look for: fever, excess crying, difficulty sleeping, pulling at the ear, and not feeding well. If you see those symptoms, then your child should get evaluated and checked out by their provider.
Antibiotics are typically what is recommended to treat ear infections. They will usually start with amoxicillin, which is the pink medicine most kids take fairly well.
If a child has recurring infections, such as three within six months or four within a year, then they should see an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
“At that point they’ll do an examination and determine if there’s anything further that needs to be done,” says Dr. Sandgren.
If ear infections are not treated appropriately, they can turn into even more serious infections or even cause hearing loss.