Identifying Ear Infection Symptoms in Your Child

If you have a young child, chances are you go to great lengths to try to protect him from germs and illnesses, but despite your best efforts, you may not be able to prevent occasional ear infections. Ear infections are one of the most common childhood ailments, and most youngsters will experience at least one ear infection before the age of 2. And while you may not be able to head off ear infection symptoms, you can learn to recognize the signs so you'll know when it's time to see your pediatrician.

The Basics about Ear Infection Symptoms

The experts say that very young children are particularly prone ear infections for several reasons. First, their immune system isn't as developed as an adults', so they can be more susceptible to illness. Another reason is because the eustachian tubes that connect the middle ear and the throat is quite small in babies and toddlers, and may not always be effective in equalizing the pressure in the middle ears. As a result, this can allow fluid and germs to accumulate there. Finally, a virus or infection in the throat, nose or adenoids can also spread into the eustachian tubes and into the ear.

Ear Infection Symptoms

Babies and toddlers usually aren't able to tell you when they have an ear infection, but there are certain behaviors and signs that can indicate that an ear infection may exist. Here are some ear infection symptoms your child may exhibit:

  • More crying and irritability than normal
  • Pulling at the ear or ears
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fever
  • Signs of ear fluid (which looks different than normal wax)
  • Trouble hearing

Other Causes of Ear Pain

Keep in mind that just because your child exhibits ear infection symptoms, it does not mean that an infection actually exists. Teething can also cause ear pain and can bring on some of the same types of symptoms as an ear infection. In addition, a sore throat or blocked eustachian tubes can also lead to ear pain without an infection actually being present.

Treatment Recommendations

If your child seems to be experiencing any ear infection symptoms, it is always wise to see your pediatrician and have a medical evaluation. If an ear infection is to blame, in some cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help clear it up. More often than not, though, your doctor will allow it to go away on its own