Pediatric Ear Infections: When to Seek Expert Help 

Pediatric Ear Infections: When to Seek Expert Help 

Ear pulling, fluid drainage, and sleepless nights are typical signs of an ear infection. Nearly all children experience at least one ear infection before age three. The good news is they often resolve on their own. 

Here’s how board-certified pediatrician Ugonma (Ugo) Harriet Okparaocha, MD of Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center in Bel Air, MD, advises parents to handle this common childhood ailment. 

Watchful waiting

Often, treatment includes “watchful waiting.” That means observing your child for a day or so to allow their immune system time to fight the infection rather than starting antibiotics immediately. 

Studies have shown that two out of three children with mild ear infections get better without antibiotics. Antibiotics sometimes improve symptoms quicker but can also cause issues, such as side effects and antibiotic resistance. 

Dr. Okparaocha may recommend watchfully waiting if your child is:

Alleviating pain 

During watchful waiting, ibuprofen, better than acetaminophen for this illness, can alleviate discomfort.

You can also put an ice or heat pack on the affected ear. The temperature is a personal preference. But always wrap the pack in a towel so it’s not too cold or hot. 

Over-the-counter numbing drops can help decrease pain and inflammation, too.

When to see your doctor about an ear infection?

Make an appointment if symptoms don’t improve within a couple of days. Other signs that it’s time to see the doctor are:

If you’re unsure whether your child’s ailment warrants a trip to the office, don’t hesitate to call us. 

Preventing ear infections

Here are some steps to lower your child’s chances of developing an ear infection.

Reduce cold symptoms

To help relieve congestion as much as possible. You can:

Prevent illnesses associated with ear infections

The surest way to prevent ear infections is to reduce the risk factors that can lead to them. To do so:

What to do about frequently recurring ear infections

If your child experiences frequent ear infections and antibiotics don’t help, Dr. Okparaocha may recommend a surgical procedure to place a tiny ventilation tube in the eardrum. Tubes improve airflow and prevent fluid backup in the middle ear. Tubes usually stay in place for six to nine months until they fall out.

If the tubes don’t prevent infections, the next step may be removing your child’s adenoids to prevent infection from spreading to the eustachian tubes.

Most of the time, though, children with ear infections start feeling better within a few days. For concerns about your child’s ear infection and all pediatric healthcare needs, contact Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center. Call or reach out online.

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