Five out of six children have an ear infection before their third birthday, making ear infections one of the most common reasons you bring your little one to a doctor. If your child has an ear infection, contact Park Avenue ENT in Brooklyn or on the Upper East Side of New York City. Jacqueline Jones, MD, is a board-certified ENT specialist and head and neck surgeon who provides gentle and compassionate care to children. Call the practice or schedule an appointment online today.
An ear infection is a painful condition that develops when a virus or bacteria causes inflammation in the middle ear. The middle ear is the part of the ear behind your eardrum where the tiny hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes) bones transfer sound vibrations to your inner ear.
In addition to inflammation, ear infections cause fluid to build up behind your child’s eardrum causing symptoms including:
Your child may be fussier or cry more than usual if they have an ear infection. You might also notice them tugging at their ears, and their appetite may change.
Ear infections are usually due to bacteria. Ear infections often develop after your child gets an upper respiratory infection. If the infection is bacterial, the same bacteria can spread to the middle ear. Alternatively, if your child has a virus, it creates an environment where bacteria can thrive.
Children are more likely to get ear infections than adults because their eustachian tubes are smaller and more level, which makes it more difficult for extra fluid to drain out of their ears. Also, children’s immune systems are less developed than adults, which makes it harder for their bodies to fight off infections.
Dr. Jones usually prescribes antibiotics to treat ear infections as they’re typically bacterial. She also recommends using a warm compress or pediatric over-the-counter medicine to relieve pain while the antibiotics help your child fight the infection.
If your child has frequent ear infections, Dr. Jones recommends placing ear tubes to encourage more efficient fluid drainage. Ear infections are considered recurrent if your child has three infections or more within six months.
Dr. Jones places ear tubes during an in-office outpatient procedure. She makes a tiny hole in the eardrum and inserts a small tube into the hole. The tube supports proper ventilation and drainage, which reduces your child’s risk of future ear infections.
If your child complains of ear pain or demonstrates other symptoms or signs of an ear infection, call Park Avenue ENT or schedule an appointment online today.