Ear Infections in Babies

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Ear infections in babies are quite common and can be very painful and irritating. Ear infections can occur during cold weather and climates. The information given below will help you to identify if your baby has an ear infection and how you can prevent it from happening.

Symptoms:

  • Your baby pulls, grabs, or tugs at his ears.This could be a sign he’s in pain. (Babies do pull on their ears for all kinds of reasons or for no reason at all. So if your baby seems otherwise fine, he probably doesn’t have an ear infection.)
  • Diarrhea or vomiting. The bug that causes the ear infection can also affect the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Reduced appetite.Ear infections can cause gastrointestinal upset. They can also make it painful for your baby to swallow and chew. You may notice your baby pull away from the breast or bottle after he takes the first few sips.
  • Yellow or whitish fluid draining from the ear.This doesn’t happen to most babies, but it’s a sure sign of infection. It also signals that a small hole has developed in the eardrum. (Don’t worry – this will heal once the infection is treated.)
  • Difficulty sleeping.Lying down can make an ear infection more painful.

Preventing future ear infections:

Ear infections aren’t contagious, but the respiratory infections that often precede and accompany them are. The best way to reduce the spread of germs is to wash your hands (and your child’s hands) often – and always after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food.

You can also:

  • Keep your baby’s vaccinations current. Immunizations help prevent certain illnesses that can lead to an ear infection.
  • Breastfeed your baby for at least six months. A study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that children who are breastfed for the first six months of life are less likely to develop ear infections. In fact, the risk of ear infections was 70 percent greater in formula-fed babies.
  • Keep your baby away from tobacco smoke.Researchers have concluded that kids whose parents smoke are more likely to get ear infections and have hearing problems.

Children living with a smoker have a 37 percent higher risk of middle ear infections and hearing problems and a 62 percent higher risk if the mom is the household smoker. Kids are also 86 percent more likely to receive surgery for their middle ear problems when their mother’s smoke, compared with children who have no smokers in their household.