Clinics has been busy lately. We are bombarded with "I think my kid has an ear infection." I know it is a question that plagues us as moms. How am I supposed to know when my child has an ear infection?? Hopefully I can help sort a few things out and give you a better idea when you should head to the pediatrician.
An ear infection, or otitis media, is inflammation and infection of the middle ear. The area affected is between the tympanic membrane (end of the outer ear) and the inner ear, including a duct called the eustachian tube.
Young children are especially susceptible to ear infections due to shorter eustachian tubes which lie at a more horizontal angle than an adult ear. Other risk factors may include second hand smoke exposure, daycare, pacifier use. Although no risk factors are 100%. It often seems that some kids will get dozens of ear infections, while others never do.
On most occasions, an ear infection follows or accompanies a cold, which can include cough, congestion, runny nose, and low grade fevers (less than 100.4°F). If a child has a bacterial ear infection, they will have a few classic symptoms, which include "earache" and fever of 102°F or more.
I know what you are thinking..."How can I tell if my 6 month old...2 year old...whatever month/year old...has an ear ache?" The best indicators are not sleeping and incosolability. You know those nights when you end up sleeping in a chair? That, accompanied with fever are your best bets that your child has an ear infection. When those things occur together, it's time to head to the pediatrician for some antibiotics.
Good luck and here's to hoping you stay ear infection free this winter!!