Dos And Don'ts Of Dealing With Ear Infections In Toddlers

Health & Medical Articles

Many young children and toddlers develop frequent ear infections. During this stage in life, the ear canal and the surrounding tissues are growing and changing rapidly, and those changes can make it easier for bacteria to become trapped in the ear and cause an infection. If your toddler is showing signs of an ear infection, such as intense pain in the ear, a fever, fullness in the ear, dizziness, ringing in the ear, and discharge, it's important that you know what you should and should not do in terms of managing this condition.

Do take your child's temperature promptly

Taking your child's temperature is the best way to determine just how serious the condition is. If your child's temperature is above 102.2 degrees F, you're dealing with a more urgent situation and you should call your doctor or take your child to an urgent care center promptly. Leaving such a fever untreated could have more serious consequences -- the fever may in fact be a sign that your child is suffering from more than just an ear infection.

If your child's temperature is above 98.6 degrees F but below 102.2 degrees, you should still call your pediatrician or plan an urgent care visit, but know that the situation is not as urgent. If it is the middle of the night, your child can safely wait until morning to see a physician.

Don't give your child a fever-reducing medication for a low fever

If your child's fever is above 102.2 degrees F, your physician or the urgent care facility may tell you to give your child a fever-reducing medication like ibuprofen on your way in to the clinic. However, if your child's fever is lower than this, you're better off avoiding these medications unless you're told otherwise by a doctor. They're simply not necessary for low fevers, and since they can have side effects like stomach bleeding, they might do more harm than good.

Don't blow smoke in your child's ear

An old folk remedy involved blowing smoke in a child's ear to treat an ear infection. No matter how much your grandma swears that it worked for her, this practice can be dangerous and may result in burns in the ear. Thus, you're best off avoiding it. There are other much safer ways to make your child comfortable while awaiting medical treatment. For instance, you could have your child rest his or her head against a heating pad that is turned on "low." You could also warm a pillow in the dryer and have your child lean his or her head against that.

Don't assume an ear infection is just another allergy symptom

In children with allergies, signs of an ear infection are sometimes passed off as just another issue related to the allergies. It is true that children with allergies often develop frequent ear infections, but the ear infection is a separate issue from the allergies that needs to be treated separately. If your allergy-prone child complains of ear pain or is showing other signs of an ear infection, as discussed above, still contact a physician promptly. If your child is developing frequent ear infections, this may be a sign that his or her allergies are being poorly managed; bringing up the problem to his or her allergist is advised.

Ear infections can be frustrating, especially when your toddler develops them frequently. Keep the advice above in mind when your toddler complains of ear pain, and you'll be on the right track. In most cases, your physician will prescribe an antibiotic, and your toddler will be feeling alright again within a day or two. However, if infections are frequent, more involved treatments, like inserting drainage tubes in the ears, may be recommended. 


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