Wednesday, November 14, 2018

10 Ways to Ease Ear Infections

Help You and Your Child Survive Painful Ear Infections

If you have ever awakened to a screaming baby, only to search for the source of the distress and be baffled by an apparent lack of it, you might have experienced your child’s first ear infection. Ear infections are painful inflammations that can be caused by viruses or bacteria, and children tend to suffer more from middle ear infections than other age populations.

Your child is reacting to the pain caused by the swelling and possible infection. The following is not intended to be medical advice (please see your child’s doctor or medical caregiver for all of those related questions), but practical, experience driven ideas from a mom (me) who raised 4 children who had ear infections, my youngest suffering the most through severe bouts of pain and discharge. At the age of 9 months my youngest went from being an extremely happy baby, even nicknamed Smiley by many, to a sad, frustrated, and aching baby with recurring ear infections. We tried more routes and remedies than I thought possible, each with their own merits and success rates.

  1. Warm Packs – Alleviate some of the pain your child is feeling by holding a warm washcloth or pack to the outside of the ear. This can sooth the ache and keep your child from scratching at the ear.
  2. Sleeping Positions – Often babies and children will be in more pain when lying down because of the pressure on the ears, which is why night-time can be so trying for everyone. Look for safe and age appropriate ways to help your child sleep in a reclined position (always follow doctors’ safety guidelines). My toddler spent many nights in my arms as I sat in the recliner or on the sofa, allowing his head to be raised and resting on my chest.
  3. Antibiotics – Again, check with your doctor. There are specific cases when antibiotics are warranted, but not every ear infection is a call for medication.
  4. Good Health Care – I know this is easier said than done sometimes, but I still have regrets from not listening more closely to my intuition. My son’s doctor kept telling me that even though my toddler was suffering from almost constant ear infections, this was “how we get averages” and that by the numbers it would all even out in the end. I didn’t want my son to be the leader on this scale, so I demanded a referral (which our insurance required) to an audiologist or face a letter to the clinic board from one very irate mother. The referral came and the audiologist confirmed my son should have been in there a year earlier.
  5. Ear Drops – There are medicated ear drops available that help relieve the pain of ear infections. If your child is suffering from the relentless pain of recurring infections, talk with her doctor about this option.
  6. Ear Plugs – Water in the ear can aggravate sensitive ear canals. Instead of just grabbing inexpensive plugs from the store, go to an audiologist’s office and request a specially fitted pair. They can cost $20 or more, but are well worth the investment (and often available without a prescription).
  7. Diet – Yes – I breastfed my son, but for him that did not seem to deter his rate or severity of ear infections. Many studies do show that breastfed babies tend to have lower rates of ear infections than do bottle fed babies. As he became older and developed a more encompassing diet I experimented with limiting dairy and other possible trigger foods with no effect on his ear infections.
  8. Natural Pathogen Doctors – These specialists go beyond the possibilities of basic dairy and wheat allergies and can assess your child for extensive ranges of triggers. Insurance coverage varies for these programs, and it is often necessary to complete the assessment and work through possible treatment plans on a gradual time schedule.
  9. Tubes – This surgical option was the one that we finally reached when our son was 2 years old. He suffered from so many ear infections, sometimes transitioning from one ear healing, but having the other one become inflamed and infected without even a day between the two. I knew that tubes were really his only option when he began to lose his speech he had already acquired – he hummed instead of speaking those ever-important words and phrases that toddlers are usually working on at this stage. Even after his surgery his doctor came out and told us that his ears were still so inflamed and infected from constant fluid build-up that he saw no other option than to help create a drainage passage for the fluid through the tubes.
  10. A Break – If your child is suffering from recurring ear infections, you are more than likely getting less sleep, dealing with the emotions and pain your child is enduring, and feeling the stress of it all. Just as with any stressful health issue, don’t forget to take time to care for yourself so that you can be a better caregiver for your child. Maybe Grandma can come and snuggle for a few hours with your baby, or your neighbor can do a load of laundry for you. Take a bath or go for a walk, but give yourself permission to take a break from the situation. You will all feel better for it.

The sometimes excruciating symptoms of ear infections in children can make life very frustrating and filled with pain for your child. I’ll never forget the day my husband called me at the salon at said I needed to meet him in town and take our son home – he was screaming and my husband thought it was caused by diaper rash. By the time I got my son home I thought I would be peeling back skin along with the diaper because he was so miserable. But lo and behold, I saw no significant sign of a diaper rash, and instantly realized the pain and screaming must be caused by an ear infection (or an invisible elephant stepping on his toes).

Seeing your child in pain for any reason can be difficult, and finding a solution is not always easy. My biggest regret is that I did not switch doctors sooner and that my son had to suffer pain and the effects of sensory overload and misperceptions as a result of reduced hearing, at a time in a child’s life when it is so crucial to development. No matter which options you pursue, make sure you talk about them with your doctor or medical professional, and you find an approach that helps your child live a healthier, happier life.

Related posts:

  1. How to Ease Anxiety in Special Needs Kids
  2. 7 Ways to Build Vocabulary
  3. 5 Ways to Keep Your Cool When You’ve Had Enough

View full post on Parenting Tips For Raising Successful Kids |

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