Health NOTE­BOOK

How to spot. . . an ear in­fec­tion

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Real Advice -

With a lit­tle knowl­edge, you’ll learn how to deal with com­mon ill­nesses and con­di­tions What is it?

Ear in­fec­tions oc­cur when bac­te­ria or a virus get in­side the mid­dle ear. Pae­di­a­tri­cian and M&B ex­pert Dr Scott Dun­lop says ear in­fec­tions can also oc­cur when ear fluid be­comes in­fected, caus­ing dis­com­fort.

What are the symp­toms?

Signs that your baby might have an ear in­fec­tion in­clude trou­ble sleep­ing or eat­ing, and a fever. “It can be painful and is a com­mon cause of sleep­less nights,” Scott ex­plains. Your baby may also be more tear­ful than usual. An­other com­mon sign that ba­bies have an ear in­fec­tion is if they pull or tug at the in­fected ear, or pull away from the breast dur­ing a feed, as the suck­ing ac­tion may hurt the ear.

What causes it?

The Eus­tachian tube, which con­nects the ears, throat and nose, is short in ba­bies and young chil­dren, al­low­ing bac­te­ria to en­ter. Lit­tle ones are also more prone to ear in­fec­tions be­cause they are still build­ing up their im­mune sys­tems. “Since viruses are the usual cause, ear in­fec­tions are com­mon in child­hood,” Scott says. “The ears con­nect to the throat by the Eus­tachian tube, so colds and sore throats can af­fect ears.”

What can you do?

Breast­feed­ing your baby be­yond four months can help re­duce the fre­quency of ear in­fec­tions by boost­ing bub’s im­mu­nity. Scott ad­vises wash­ing your hands fre­quently to pre­vent bac­te­ria from spread­ing. To ease bub’s dis­com­fort, the Bet­ter Health Chan­nel sug­gests using over-the-counter painkillers (such as parac­eta­mol or ibupro­fen). Make sure to fol­low the in­struc­tions on the packet.

When to see your GP?

Make an ap­point­ment to see your GP if the pain per­sists for more than two days. “Some mild ear in­fec­tions clear up with­out an­tibi­otics, so you may not be pre­scribed any­thing,” Scott says. “If there’s a con­cern about the in­ner fluid or hear­ing, your GP will usu­ally re­fer you to an ENT (ears, nose and throat) spe­cial­ist.” How­ever, most ba­bies and young chil­dren will out­grow ear in­fec­tions as their Eus­tachian tube grows longer and nar­rower.

Dream­baby Medicine Set, $7.95 Vicks Fever In­sight ther­mome­ter, $23.95

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