Swimmer's ear and other ear infections can be very painful to experience. Signs to look for include your child complaining about pain in their ears, tugging on the ears, signs of irritability or more crying than usual (especially when lying down), trouble sleeping or hearing, fever, loss of appetite, or fluid draining from the ears. If you notice pus or fluid coming from the ears, it means the eardrum has ruptured. Simply wipe away the fluid with a clean cloth and avoid plugging with cotton, as retained pus can further cause irritation and infection.
Like most illnesses, ways to avoid ear infections can come down to frequent hand washing (to eliminate the spreading of germs). This is especially true during fall and winter months, where common colds and illnesses are rampant, but good hand washing should be put into action year round for both you, your child, and anyone else who comes into contact with your family, such as a day care provider, teacher, classmates, or other family members. Second hand smoke has also been linked to a variety of childhood illnesses and it is recommended you keep your child away from exposure. Kidshealth.org also encourages breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months as many antibodies in breast milk can help developing immune systems fight off infections and illnesses.
If you believe your child has an ear infection, be aware that many doctors may take a "wait and see" approach and not immediately prescribe antibiotics unless their is a pressing need or the infection takes place in a young infant. Reasons for this may be that the infection is caused by a virus and antibiotics won't do anything or doctors fear the overuse of drugs can lead to bacteria developing resistance to the medicine. They may ask you to wait and observe your child over a 48-72 hour time frame before they will prescribe anything. Tylenol and a clean, warm compresses can help alleviate some of the pain your child is experiencing. It is still a good idea to take your child to the doctor if you suspect an ear infection, as they can examine the ear to make sure the eardrum is still intact and or decide if it has been cause by a virus or bacteria.
|photo courtesy of marchofdimes.com|