How to Fight Childhood Ear Infections
If your child is prone to ear infections, here’s what you need to know to help them get relief.
By age 5, nearly every child has had at least one ear infection. Consider it a rite of passage, like learning to walk and getting your first loose tooth.
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But some kids seem to get more than their fair share of infections. To weary parents, it can feel like each time their child gets a cough or cold he or she also develop some of these telltale symptoms:
Babies too young to say where it hurts may rub or tug their ears, cry, and be irritable or unable to sleep.
“Ear tubes offer immediate relief and restore hearing, which is especially important for young ones learning speech and language skills.”
“When parents are frustrated by recurring ear infections, I tell them about three treatment options,” says otolaryngologist Richard Freeman, MD, PhD.
“Deciding what’s best is ultimately up to them,” says Dr. Freeman. “But ear tubes offer immediate relief and restore hearing, which is especially important for young ones learning speech and language skills. Plus, there’s no risk of developing antibiotic side effects or resistance.”
According to Dr. Freeman, it may be time to seriously consider ear tubes if your child has had:
Ear tube surgery is one of the most common childhood surgeries. More than half a million are performed each year — usually on patients one to three years old. The procedure takes about 10 minutes, and risk of complication is very low.
Here’s what happens:
“Many children never have another ear infection,” says Dr. Freeman.
Ear tubes typically stay in about a year and fall out on their own. Often, tubes that don’t fall out can be removed easily in the doctor’s office. Occasionally a second operative procedure is needed.
Eventually kids do grow out of recurring ear infections — usually at around 6 years old, as their natural ear tubes (Eustachian tubes) mature. In the meantime, a simple ear tube procedure may save both you and your child an earful of misery.