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My Son Had An Ear Infection and I Did Not Know It

We are pretty immune to the daycare cough, lovingly called “kennel cough” in our house. And by immune, I don’t mean that our 3.5 year old son doesn’t bring it home – it just means that we don’t knee-jerk react to it anymore. Sniffles and a runny  nose and lingering cough are simply part of daycare in the winter for toddlers. If I took my son into the doctor every time he seemed to not feel 100%, we’d be broke from copay and bankrupt on sick time. So we watch his temperature and listen for any production in his cough (aka hacking up gunk from his lungs) and the color of his snot.

I hope you weren’t eating as you read this. If you were, sorry!

The runny nose started about a week ago and there was a little bit of fever, including one day that I did take off work to let him rest from preschool. My husband and I both caught it and we all three seemed to recover at the same rate. But then our son started saying “oowwww!” when he laid down and telling me his ear hurt. When I asked him which ear, he would just shrug and change his mind that it didn’t hurt. But I was still suspicious, so we ended up in a Minute Clinic the night before I left for a blogging conference.

Diagnosis? Ear infection.

It’s not that I completely missed it – after all, I had suspicions. But since I’ve never had an ear infection myself, I simply did not know what to look for. And it’s not like I could look in his ear and see the infection!

So for future reference, I decided to look up common symptoms of ear infections and easy ways to help treat the infection:


  • image-3286 1 of 20
    image-3286
    Click through to keep a better eye on your little one's lobes!
  • What causes an ear infection? 2 of 20
    What causes an ear infection?
    An ear infection is caused by fluid build up, usually as a result of a recent cold or upper respiratory infection.
    Source: Web MD
  • Why do kids get them more often? 3 of 20
    Why do kids get them more often?
    Kids have shorter eustachian tubes that are more prone to blockage, plus larger adenoids and tonsils that help aid in the blockage.
    Source: KidsHealth.org
  • It may be genetic 4 of 20
    It may be genetic
    If the parents had ear infections as kids, it is likely the child will suffer from them as well. I have never had one in my life, so it's not surprising that it took my son 3.5 years to develop an ear infection even though he's in daycare.
    Source: Web MD
  • Ear infections are not contagious 5 of 20
    Ear infections are not contagious
    While the cold that caused the ear infection is easily passed, the ear infection is not contagious. So your toddler can still attend preschool or play dates if she feels up to it.
    Source: Web MD
  • image-3287 6 of 20
    image-3287
    How do you know if it's an ear infection?
  • Rubbing the ears 7 of 20
    Rubbing the ears
    Kids will often rub or pull on their ears because it hurts or they can't hear as well as usual. They may also shake their head because the ears feel "full."
    Source: Web MD
  • Cranky and in pain 8 of 20
    Cranky and in pain
    Ear infections can really hurt, so if your toddler seems overly cranky for no reason, it might be time to get her ears looked at by a doctor.
    Source: Web MD
  • Poor sleeping 9 of 20
    Poor sleeping
    Laying down puts pressure on the ears and it's painful, so your toddler may fight sleep or say "owww!" when she lays down.
    Source: Web MD
  • Pus and smell 10 of 20
    Pus and smell
    Yeah, this one is gross. But a bad ear infection may cause the ear or smell or pus to leak out of the ear.
    Source: Web MD
  • Not wanting to eat 11 of 20
    Not wanting to eat
    Chewing and swallowing can put a lot of pressure on the ears, so you may notice a refusal of foods.
    Source: Web MD
  • Not a darn thing. 12 of 20
    Not a darn thing.
    Some kiddos show zero symptoms of ear infections, so don't feel bad if you don't notice it. That is common!
    Source: Web MD
  • image-3288 13 of 20
    image-3288
    How do you make it better?
  • Get thee to the doctor 14 of 20
    Get thee to the doctor
    A doctor will look in your toddler's ears to check for inflammation and reaction of the ear drum to sound and air. Only a doctor can properly diagnose and treat an ear infection.
    Source: Web MD
  • Antibiotic prescriptions 15 of 20
    Antibiotic prescriptions
    Antibiotics are the most common way to treat the bacterial infection of the ear infection. Be sure to finish the entire prescription so the infection does not return!
    Source: Web MD
  • Get some rest 16 of 20
    Get some rest
    A few doses of antibiotic and pain reducer may help your toddler rest. Sleep is always good to restore the body.
    Source: KidsHealth.org
  • Treat the pain with over-the-counter meds 17 of 20
    Treat the pain with over-the-counter meds
    Talk to your doctor first, but ours suggested that we could alternate Tylenol and Motrin to alleviate the pain in our son's ears.
    Source: KidsHealth.org
  • Wait and see 18 of 20
    Wait and see
    If the infection isn't severe and looks like it may clear up on it's own or that it may be caused by a virus, the doctor may suggest a waiting period of a few days. Then he will see you again and determine if further action is needed.
    Source: KidsHealth.org
  • Prevention: There’s not much you can do 19 of 20
    Prevention: There's not much you can do
    Wash your hands and reduce your child's exposure to colds and infections. But that's about it.
    Source: KidsHealth.org
  • There are options for chronic ear infections 20 of 20
    There are options for chronic ear infections
    For the chronic ear infection kid, there are options such as surgical tubes. If you have concerns over the number of infections, please don't hesitate to ask your doctor about any further measures that can be taken.
    Source: Web MD

Remember that it is always best to consult your own doctor!

Sources:
KidsHealth.org
WebMD.com

.

More by BA:

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Week in the Life.

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures at Okay, BA! You can also find her on the Twitters & Facebook.

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