Almost every child experiences ear pain once in a while. However, just because this issue is common doesn’t mean that it’s normal. Just like any other type of pain, ear pain is an indication that there’s something isn’t right in the body. Sometimes, it may even be an indication of a serious problem.
What Is an Ear Infection?
An ear infection (also referred to as acute otitis media) occurs when a bacterial or viral infection affects the middle ear. An infection changes the pressure in the Eustachian tubes (the section between the ear and the back of the mouth). Acute otitis media is especially common in young children. Ear infections are particularly painful for children and they cause a difficulty in sleeping, irritability, and hearing difficulties.
What Happens If Ear Infections Are Left Untreated?
If left untreated, ear infections can lead to mastoiditis, which is an inflammation of the bone adjacent to the affected ear. Severe ear infections can also lead to hearing loss, a ruptured eardrum, meningitis, and even facial nerve paralysis. Many of these conditions will have a direct impact on the quality of life of your child, and they will severely hinder your child’s ability to communicate. Some of these are life-threatening conditions. Parents need to treat ear infections as soon as they can.
Home Remedies for Ear Infections
Mild ear infections can be treated with over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Decongestants also work by relieving the pressure in the affected ear. Prescription ear drops are also effective treatments for ear infections, especially for infants whose ears cannot be manually cleaned. Ear infections usually resolve on their own after a few days. Therefore, if the infection does not subside after 48 hours from treatment, you need to see a doctor.
When to See a Doctor
While ear infections can be treated with ease, there are a few instances when you might need to take your child to a doctor. Some of these instances are:
If the pain in your child’s ear lasts for more than 48 hours after administering an over-the-counter pain reliever.
If your child’s body temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the ear infection recurs frequently.
When the infection hinders your child’s ability to hear.
If your child develops a stiff neck.
A stiff neck could be an indication that your child may have temporomandibular joint dysfunction which, while not life-threatening, can easily become the cause of chronic pain if left untreated. This is especially painful for children because they have a low pain tolerance compared to the average adult.
If your child suffers from any of these conditions, it’s important to bring your child to a doctor or an ear care facility such as Helix Hearing Care in order to prevent your child’s condition from worsening.
Ear infections should not be taken lightly, even when they typically resolve themselves after a few days from treatment. This, however, doesn’t mean that parents should panic every time their child gets an ear infection. Understanding ear infections will help parents know how to respond properly and how to distinguish a serious problem from one that they can resolve themselves.