Ear infections in babies occur very commonly and they usually show irritating behavior and cry while having any discomfort in the ear. Many of you are concerned about medication safety for babies. for that reason, we are going to talk about antibiotics for ear infection for babies in this article.
Why Do Ear Infections Occur?
Ear infections are caused by the bacterias and it affects the middle ear leading to inflammation. It occurs when there is fluid build-up behind the eardrum. However, everybody can get ear infections, but children are likely to get ear infections more than adults. Most of the children got that infection by their 3rd anniversary. Moreover, ear infections are the big reason parents take their children to the doctor.
Scientifically ear infections are called otitis media.
Symptoms Of Ear Infection
Symptoms are classified into three types:-
Acute otitis media:- it’s the most ordinary type of ear infection. The middle ear is inflamed and fluid is trapped beyond the eardrum. Thus, the inflammation causes pain and discomfort in the ear. Often, children get a fever while having an ear infection.
Otitis media with effusion:- sometimes after the course of an ear infection, the fluid stays confined behind the eardrum. usually, the child has no symptoms of this but the doctor will diagnose it with a special instrument.
Chronic otitis media with effusion:- this happens when fluid gets stuck in the middle ear for a prolonged time or comes back frequently, even if there is no infection. Chronic otitis makes it harder to fight with the other new infections and can also affect hearing.
Symptoms Of Ear Infection In Babies
How would you tell if your child has an ear infection? First, you should know about the signs and symptoms. Here are some recognizable signs you must notice:-
- Twitching or pulling the ear
- Crying and fussiness
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Fluid running from the ear
- Heaviness and imbalance
- Not able to hear or respond to the low sounds
Why Do Children Get Ear Infections More Than Adults?
There are different reasons why children are more vulnerable to ear infections than adults.
The first reason is that the eustachian tubes in the ear are smaller in children than in adults. The more levels of eustachian tubes make it hard for fluid to get out of the ear even in normal conditions. When eustachian tubes are inflamed or blocked with fluid due to cold or some other respiratory illness, fluid may not get removed.
Furthermore, the immune system isn’t effective as adults because it’s not developed fully at that time. And makes it hard to fight other infections in the child.
Adenoids control the bacteria passing through the nose and the mouth. At times, bacteria get stuck in the adenoids leading to a chronic infection that can be spread to the eustachian tube and the middle ear.
What Causes Ear Infections In Babies?
An ear infection is a bacterial infection and usually happens when a child has upper respiratory problems like cold, a sore throat, or any other upper respiratory infection. When the upper respiratory infection is bacterial, the same bacteria will move to the middle ear. While if the upper respiratory infection is caused due to a virus, like a cold, bacteria may be strained to a microbe-loving environment and will pass into the middle ear as a secondary infection. Eventually, a fluid build-up occurs behind the eardrum.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Ear Infection?
Firstly the doctor would ask you about the history of the condition, like if your child has had an upper respiratory infection recently such as a cold or something? Does he feel trouble sleeping? Or does she keep pulling her ears? If symptoms appear like an ear infection, the doctor will diagnose it with a special instrument called an otoscope to look at the eardrum. An inflamed, red eardrum indicates an infection.
The doctor can also use a pneumatic otoscope, which determines the mobility of the tympanic membrane of the ear, usually, it responds to the pressure changes such as by blowing air into the ear canal. Immobility can be an indication of trapped fluid behind the eardrum or inside the middle ear. With pneumatic otoscopy, a normal eardrum will move back and forth normally than an eardrum with fluid build-up.
Tympanometry is a technique or a medical test, which measures the mobility and function of the eardrum and middle ear. The response can be seen on the graph called tympanogram. The test is painless and quick unless the eardrum and middle ear are inflamed.
How To Treat Middle Ear Infection?
Doctors will prescribe antibiotics for ear infections for babies such as amoxicillin, which can be taken up to 7-10 days. And if the fever and pain are also there, the doctor will recommend OTC painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen and some ear drops to relieve the symptoms.
Note: Babies and toddlers should not be given aspirin, as aspirin is considered a risk factor for Reye’s syndrome and should only be given when prescribed by the doctor.
In case your doctor isn’t able to diagnose a definite ear infection, and also the symptoms are not as severe and painful, he might ask you to wait for at least two days for the symptoms to go away on their own.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages doctors to carefully check and observe the children whose diagnoses aren’t clear enough. Especially children between 6 months to 2 years as per its guidelines in 2013. If still, symptoms do not go away within 48-72 hours from when they began, guidelines recommend the doctor to start the antibiotics therapy.
Sometimes the earache isn’t caused due to infections and will get better without antibiotics. Antibiotics prevent the growth of bacteria that is causing the infection.
When you get the medicine or antibiotics for ear infections for babies, make sure your baby is having it exactly as the doctor has prescribed even if the symptoms feel diminished. This is because the infection hasn’t gone away fully and can flare up again once the medicine is skipped. Complete the course of antibiotics as the doctor recommended.
Take your child for follow-ups with time until it’s not treated fully.
Also read: is it safe to breastfeed while breastfeeding
Antibiotics For Ear Infection For Babies
If the ear infection is bacterial, your doctor would prescribe you either oral or topical antibiotics or in combination.
Here is a list of some of them:-
- Ciprodex(ciprofloxacin/dexamethasone suspension)
- Cipro HC( ciprofloxacin/hydrocortisone suspension)
- Cortisporin (neomycin/polymyxin/hydrocortisone ) suspension or solution
- Cortisporin TC ( colistin/neomycin/thonzonium/hydrocortisone) suspension
- Ciprofloxacin solution
- Ofloxacin solution
- Acetasol HC (hydrocortisone/acetic acid) solution
How To Prevent Ear Infections?
Yes, ear infections can be prevented up to an extent by reducing the risk associated with them. Here are easy preventive measures you can take to prevent ear infections such as:-
Vaccination:- make sure to vaccinate your child for flu or influenza every year. Prefer the 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13), because it is more effective and protects against more infections than the previous vaccine PCV7.
It is proven that vaccinated children stay away from ear infections more than those who are not vaccinated.
Hand washes:- wash your hands before touching your baby, it prevents the spread of bacteria on them.
Avoid smoke exposure: get away from smoke exposure like cigarette smoke.
Never let your child with a bottle lying down in bed.
Avoid the child’s exposure to many people, especially those who are coming from outside.
Antibiotics for ear infection for babies are safe and effective in treating acute to chronic ear infections. Usually, ear infections are a result of some upper respiratory infections like a sore throat and cold. Make sure you vaccinate your child well against flu or influenza. Start antibiotic therapy only after the proper diagnosis and as per the doctor recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions:-
Do babies need antibiotics for ear infections?
Most of the ear infections in babies are treated on their own and won’t need antibiotics. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections in the ear and not viral infections. Though, 6 months or older won’t need any specific antibiotic to treat the infection.
How are ear infections treated in babies?
Ear infections are diagnosed definitely with a special instrument otoscope and then antibiotics are prescribed to treat if significant symptoms appear. Babies under 6 months are usually given antibiotics. While the older ones with mild symptoms won’t need an antibiotic.
How long does it take for baby ear infection to go away with antibiotic?
It may take 2-3 days to get rid of an ear infection for your baby. But give the medicine exactly as directed by the doctor. Or else the infection might not go completely. The earache and fever should go away in two days.
Can amoxicillin treat an ear infection?
Yes, amoxicillin can treat ear infections because it can fight against the bacterias causing the infection. However, antibiotics like amoxicillin are not necessary for the middle ear infection, as immunity works here to tackle the infection. But if the symptoms occur for more than two days, one should take the medicine.
How do you know if an ear infection is viral or bacterial?
Bacterial ear infections are more likely to have a long-term impact than viral infections. For example, bacterial ear infection symptoms appear to stay longer than viral. Fever is higher in case of bacterial ear infection.
How can I treat my baby’s ear infection naturally?
There are few things you can try to treat your baby’s ear infection:
- Warm compression:- place a warm compress over your child’s ear for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Paracetamol for pain, fever, and inflammation
- Use warm oil
- Over the counter ear drops
- Keep your baby hydrated
How can I treat my baby’s ear infection without antibiotics?
Yes, most of the baby’s ear infection is treated on its own, and won’t need antibiotics. But still, if one gets an ear infection more than expected some remedies will work such as acetaminophen(paracetamol), warm compression, and staying hydrated.
What does a baby ear infection look like?
Here are some signs of ear infection in babies such as red and inflamed eardrums, either a transparent yellowish or greenish fluid behind the eardrum.
Can teething cause ear infections?
Yes, it is possible, teething produces more saliva leading to an increased risk of middle ear infections. An enlarged gland in the throat called adenoids also contributes to causing middle ear infections. The common symptom of a middle ear infection is an earache.
Why are ear infections worse at night?
Ear infections are worse at night because lying on your back creates pressure on your ears, which should be avoided while having an ear infection. The pressure created by lying on your back causes pain in the middle ear and troubles you in sleeping well.