doctor checking a child's ear for signs of infectionEar infections commonly affect children under the age of six due to their developing bodies. Since your child may not have the full vocabulary to explain what is hurting them, common symptoms include tugging or scratching at the ear. An ear infection can take several days to present signs that one is present. AFC Urgent Care North Bergen will be able to provide your child with a complete diagnosis and treatment for an ear infection.

What Causes an Ear Infection to Form?

An infection will form in the Eustachian tube, located just underneath the middle ear. While an adult’s Eustachian tube is angled diagonally, a child’s has not been able to grow and develop yet and rests more horizontally, making it more difficult for the tube to drain fluids from the eardrum during a cold or other illness. As the tube swells, bacteria is more likely to form within any undrained liquid trapped within the closed-off area, which leads to an infection.

How Can I Tell if My Child Has an Ear Infection?

Because the infection is located internally, you will only be able to tell if your child is ill by physical symptoms. During the first few days of the infection, they may tug or scratch at their ear throughout the day or hold the side of their head that has the infection. After the symptoms begin to progress, your child may develop a fever and have trouble hearing softer sounds, such as your voice at an indoor level. If the infection is left untreated, your child may have trouble sleeping through the night and begin vomiting.

Preventing Ear Infections

Ear infections can be prevented in several ways. If your child is still breastfeeding or drinking from a bottle, make sure they are held at a 45-degree angle and not flat on their back. When a child is laid flat while consuming liquids, there is more of a chance of the liquid pooling and flowing directly into the middle ear. Hold your child so that the head is held higher than the stomach to prevent fluids from entering the Eustachian tube. If your child has known allergies, keep an eye on them when allergens are present in order to act quickly in case of a reaction. Cigarette smoke has been known to cause blockages in the ears, so avoid smoking around your child whenever possible. Teach them how to wash their hands properly and thoroughly at a young age to prevent the cold and flu viruses.

If your child is showing symptoms of an ear infection, visit AFC Urgent Care for diagnosis and antibiotics to treat the infection.