An ear infection is very common in babies. 5 out of 6 babies experience an ear infection before their third birthday. To see if your baby has an ear infection, check if your baby has pain in her ear, has a fever, doesn’t sleep well, reduces appetite, has difficulty hearing, and a yellowish discharge from the ear. If you notice such symptoms, it’s quite clear that your baby has an ear infection. The best option is to contact your baby’s pediatrician for further help. You can also help ease the pain and possibly cure the ear infection at home, like elevating their head while sleeping or trying warm compressions.
In this article, I’ll go over some beneficial home remedies that help in relieving pain and possibly curing ear infections. However, if the infection does not heal up within 3 to 4 days, please consult your pediatrician.
I understand that your baby can cry for numerous reasons, and at times, it gets hard to identify its primary cause. Well, here I will help you out by sharing symptoms, remedies, and preventive measures for ear infections in your baby.
What is an ear infection?
An ear infection, also known as otitis media, is caused by bacteria that build up fluid behind the eardrum and results in inflammation in the middle ear.
The ear infection causes pain in the affected area of your baby’s ear, and your child may also suffer from fever. An ear infection is very common in children, as about five out of six children will experience an ear infection by the time they turn 3 years old.
Signs of an ear infection
The following signs will help you indicate that your baby is cranky and in discomfort because of an ear infection.
1. Pain in the ear
An ear infection can cause your little one to cry a lot due to severe irritability and pain. She may turn into a cranky baby if you do not start proper treatment.
Check your baby’s rectal temperature. If it ranges between 99F to 104F, it indicates that your baby’s fragile immune system is fighting against infection.
3. Uncomfortable sleep
Due to the severe pain and inflammation, your little one will find it very difficult to sleep peacefully. She might even wake up after a few minutes.
4. Hearing problem
An ear infection is caused by fluid trapped behind the eardrums. This fluid will deteriorate the hearing ability of your baby for several weeks. She will regain her hearing ability as soon as the fluid clears up and the infection is gone.
5. Decrease in appetite
Your baby won’t take in much food because an ear infection will make it difficult for your baby to swallow. In a worse situation, your baby might suffer from diarrhea and vomiting.
6. Fluid draining from your baby’s ear
A yellowish or white, possibly blood-tinged, fluid draining from your little one’s ear confirms that your baby has an ear infection. The fluid is very different from the earwax as the earwax is of orange-yellow or reddish-brown color.
The fluid drains due to the eardrum burst, which will be very painful for your baby. But as the fluid flows, the pain and pressure will decrease, making your baby feel better.
7. Other symptoms
There are some other signs, such as your little one will start having trouble with balance, where you will notice that your baby is frequently pulling one or both ears indicating that his ears are hurting.
When to take your baby to the pediatrician
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you need to consult your pediatrician when your baby is under 3 months old and her fever is higher than 100.4 F (38°C). In comparison, for babies above 3 months, you need to see a pediatrician if her fever is above 102.2 F (39°C).
Aside from fever, if pus or fluid is draining from your baby’s ear, you must immediately take your baby to the pediatrician. It’s also advised to seek help from your baby’s pediatrician if the ear infection does not go away after 2 to 3 days and in the case when you think that your baby is suffering from immense pain.
Home remedies for ear infections
If you do not want to give antibiotics to your baby and want to cure the ear infection at home using some effective home remedies. Then here are the 6 best yet effective home remedies.
1. Warm compression
Take a warm cloth or warm moist compression and place it over the affected area of your baby’s ear for about 10 to 15 minutes. By doing so, you’ll notice that your baby will feel better as it relieves pain.
2. Warm oil
Add a few drops of slightly warm olive or sesame oil to the affected area. Only perform this remedy if there is no fluid draining from your baby’s ear and there is no sign of a ruptured eardrum in your baby.
3. Keep your baby hydrated
Give various healthy fluids to your baby as swallowing might help open the blocked eustachian tube and allow the trapped fluid to drain.
4. Elevate your baby’s head
To improve the sinus drainage, slightly elevate your baby’s head by raising the crib at the head side. Never place a pillow under your baby’s head; instead, put a pillow or two under the mattress.
5. Use homeopathic ear drops
Use homeopathic ear drops with garlic, mullein, lavender, calendula, and olive oil to reduce inflammation and pain.
6. Use acetaminophen
To relieve your baby’s irritation and fever, give her Acetaminophen (Tylenol) before sleeping. Use this remedy for your baby if she’s older than 6 months, and always get the proper dosage from your baby’s pediatrician.
Last week, I met up with my friends, all of them are mothers. There we discussed how ear infection has become common in babies.
Most of us were not in favor of giving antibiotics to infants as their immune system becomes resistant. Next time, babies require a higher dosage of antibiotics to fight the bacteria.
Those who were not in favor of antibiotics shared these home remedies. As each baby is different, I recommend you try each remedy and find out which is most effective for your baby.
How to reduce the risk of ear infections
You can not prevent the ear infection from happening, but you can reduce its chances of getting severe. Below are a few factors that may help you out.
1. Exclusive breastfeeding
Breast milk contains antibodies that can fight against bacterias causing ear infections. So, if possible, you should exclusively breastfeed your baby for at least 6 months. However, if you have no option but to give him formula milk, refrain from giving your baby a bottle while lying down.
You must ensure to vaccinate your baby on time, especially remember to get him a shot of pneumococcal and flu. Pneumococcal protects babies against Streptococcus pneumonia, a common bacterial cause of AOM.
3. Avoid exposure to harmful smoke
Protect your baby from second-hand tobacco and cigarette smoke as it can increase the possibility of ear infections in your baby.
4. Good hygiene
Always wash your hand before preparing baby food. Also, make sure to keep your place neat and clear, use sanitizers and other liquids that kill harmful germs.
You should also refrain from exposing your baby to a place where cold and flu germs may be around.
5. Stop your baby from putting things in their ear
Keep a watch on your baby to prevent her from putting dangerous pointed things in her ears as they can severely damage your baby’s ear.
Pointed hazardous things can cause cuts and bruises, resulting in ear infections.
An ear infection is very common in babies. It can keep happening even as they become toddlers. Both my sons experienced ear infections and healed up using the home remedies I shared above.
For my babies, warm oil and warm compressions helped out the most while healing the ear infection. But you must try all the remedies to identify which one is suitable for your little one.
If the ear infection does not fade away in 3 to 4 days, please consult your child specialist; he may prescribe an antibiotic for your baby. Do not get hesitant while giving antibiotics because if home remedies are of no use, only antibiotics can cure the ear infection.
Feel free to share your experience with your little one while she had an ear infection in the comments section below. Also, if anyone wants to ask anything related to ear infections, we would love to answer all your queries.