Ear Infections...not exactly a debate

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011 ( 52 moms have responded )

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A lot of you ladies seem to have a lot of experience with babies and children in general, and are very smart, so this is why I preferred to ask this here.
I haven't looked up anything about it online yet and I haven't talked with my doctor yet either.

My 2.5 year old son tends to get ear infections; not a lot of them, but especially this time of year. Since September he has had 3 of them. I know of some kids who get one a month and all year round.

Do any of you know how to prevent ear infections? Or is there even a way to do it?

I'm just really curious. My 4 year old was breast fed for almost a year and he never gets them, but my 2 year old was only breast fed for about 2 weeks because of complications. Sometimes I just want to kick myself for the fact I couldn't breastfeed my 2 year old longer.

Advice and opinions please would be appreciated :-)

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Michelle - posted on 01/18/2011

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Okay well I hate to sound like the doctor police, BUT I can tell you from experience that if you allow an ear infection to go untreated and clear up on its own, it can cause hearing loss and/or perforate the ear drum. All of these at home remedies sounds great and I would use them, but if symptoms continue please take him to his doctor. I would hate to think that we all gave you advice and you followed it which lead to your son's hearing loss. There are many different types of ear infections, bacterial and viral. If it is a viral infection, then of course the virus has to run its corse. But if it is a baterial infection, no amount of at home anything will cure it unless those things are killing the bateria.

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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Chronic ear infections that require ear tubes are the result of short eustation tubes and your kid will just get tons of ear infections (like mine did). Sounds like your kiddo just has allergies and it backs up into his ears. If he uses pacifiers frequently that could also be a cause. Does he get really dark circles under his eyes during this time of year, too?

[deleted account]

I would have to agree with Kate. My daughter has seasonal allergies and her ears get really touchy starting September or October. I finally talked to the doctor and she takes Singular once a day, we haven't had a problem since.

Kate CP - posted on 01/23/2011

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Personally, I don't think he needs tubes, Bonnie. I think he just needs some allergy medication or something to help with drainage. Tubes really only help if he has a eustasian tube issue (too short, etc).

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[deleted account]

Bonnie i was breast fed as a baby and i get ear infections all the time its really just one of those things in some people

Bonnie - posted on 01/23/2011

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From what some people have said in conversation and some information I had read up on, it is stated that breastfeeding could help prevent illnesses later on in life including ear infections, so I don't know. I really don't want to jump into getting tubes in his ears already, but we'll see how it goes. Thanks for your opinion Candi.

Candi - posted on 01/23/2011

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Breastfeeding or formula feeding has nothing to do with ear infections. I formula fed my daughter and she never ever got sick her whole first year and she is almost 2 and has only had 3 ear infections her entire life and one small cold that lasted a few days. My daughters dr told me that she has a high possibility of having allergies because she got them back to back and the time of year. Id check with your childs dr and have him tested for allergies and go from there. If your child doesnt have allerges then Id talk to the dr about having tubes put in the ears.

Bonnie - posted on 01/20/2011

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For those who are saying that I shouldn't beat myself up about not being able to breastfeed my son longer or that you don't think not breastfeeding is always the case....thank you. I appreciate it. I don't feel as bad about it now hearing that some mothers breastfed and their child still has/had major ear infections.
Sarah, no he doesn't swim, but he hates getting his hair washed in the bath and hates getting water on his face, so he may move too much causing it to go into his ears.

[deleted account]

i don't think that the lack of breastfeeding is the cause of ear infections so don't go blaming yourself for it. if he swims a lot it may be water causing the infection. My mum used to put methylated spirits in our ear we'd tilt it up for 10 minutes then tilt it down onto a tissue the metho dries up the fluid. (im pretty sure it was straight metho she used)

[deleted account]

2 of my 3 children got ear infections every time they were teething. Not a causal relationship, it's just that ears were obviously their weak spots. They weren't bad infections and could be treated with baby panadol. They grew out of them. The third child just got grizzly when she was teething.

Hailey - posted on 01/19/2011

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I had ear infections all my childhood and was breastfed till i was 3. Please dont beat yourself up on that. Speak to your doctor about grommits. They are a little egg cup shape thing that goes in the ear and helps to drain any wax. Build up of wax hurts like hell and drops are not always effective. A general anesthetic to put them in and they come out on their own. I had it done in my teens too and it really helps. one end of the egg cup goes behind the ear drum and the other goes on the otherside to help drain the wax. Another tip i have is too keep the ear dry in the bath, water can make it hurt. Please dont put cotton buds in it, it can push the wax and the infection back into the ear cannal. Let it drain out and just wipe the edges. When its really sore (if its just one ear) lie on the ear that hurts to help drain it. A warm water bottle feels nice to lie on. Grommits really work well,, instant releef :) hope this helps.

Jennifer - posted on 01/19/2011

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i'm a bit late on this but i recently read an article that insufficient vitamin D levels can lead to ear infections so perhaps that is worth looking into as well

Rosie - posted on 01/19/2011

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i'm sorry i have no expert knowledge of this, but my oldest got an infection in his ears every 3 weeks for the first year of his life.he got tubes at age 1. my 2 younger ones have had maybe 3 ear infections between the 2 of them in their 9 years total on this earth. i honestly think it just depends on the kid. they were all formula fed by the way.

i'm sorry if i'm not of more help, i can't figure out why grant had so many compared to my other children. he's also got a ton of other things wrong with him as well, like ADHD, and diabetes insipidus (my other 2 have that as well) failure to thrive, maybe some type of high functioning autism.

Kate CP - posted on 01/19/2011

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I think it was like $20? They sell them at pharmacies (chemists) and places like Wal-Mart and Target.

Bonnie - posted on 01/19/2011

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Kate, it is very well possible. Do you remember around how much you paid for the otoscope?

Kate CP - posted on 01/19/2011

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It's common for fevers to spike at night and sometimes severe allergies can cause a fever, too. I think his allergies are bothering him and it's leading to ear problems. :/

Kate CP - posted on 01/19/2011

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This is actually why I got an otoscope so I could look in my daughter's ears and see if she had an infection before dragging her to the doctor. Sometimes she had one and needed to go and sometimes she didn't and was just being cranky. I think all moms should have an otoscope and know how to use it so they can see for themselves what an infection looks like and when to take the kid to the doctor.

Sometimes an eardrum will just be red and irritated and sometimes you'll see fluid or puss buildup behind it. If you're seeing fluid or puss it's time to see the doctor. If it's just a little red and irritated it will usually go away on it's own. The newest guidelines set out by the AAP are to reduce the amount of antibiotics being prescribed to children which is causing antibiotic resistance and super bugs.

This article gives a good rundown of the newest treatment procedures in ear infections: http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/commoninf...

Bonnie - posted on 01/19/2011

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If the fever doesn't go away completely in the next day or two I will take him to the doctor. If it is an ear infection, once it clears up, I think I am going to start avoiding using Q-Tips and try the olive oil/mineral oil to clean the ears.

Bonnie - posted on 01/19/2011

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Julianne, his ears don't usually feel warm and he is not tugging on them. He has had a fever on and off for 2 days. In the morning, like this morning, he doesn't have a fever. He has a light fever during the day and then in the evening it goes up high.

Jackie - posted on 01/18/2011

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just a side note... those ear infections dont go away with some kids either. My son is 14 and still gets ear infections, fluid build up and all kinds of problems with his ear drums. He had tubes when he was 3, one drum hole from the tube never closed either so he has problems every winter with allergy problems. His hearing flucuates huge every winter also so we do a yearly hearing checks (multiple times during the year).
I dont think there are any full remedies out there or concrete answers... it depends on the kid. I agree tho that a doctor needs to be consulted when it comes to ears and eyes anytime there is a question.

Jodi - posted on 01/18/2011

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I must admit, I get all my ear infections checked out by the doctor. My son had ear infections as a baby, which resulted in 3 burst eardrums (I never even knew he had an ear infection because he never had any symptoms until the screaming just before the ear drum burst). Unfortunately, the 3rd time it happened, it never healed. It did cause hearing problems, and also required a LOT of care until he was old enough to have surgery to reconstruct his eardrum (which was when he was 7). He couldn't go in swimming pools, he couldn't get it wet (which meant covering it when he showered or bathed), for years because it would mean potential infection right through to the brain. That's right, when you don't have an eardrum to protect your ear, they are extremely prone to more infections in deeper places in the ear from nastier bacteria.

Anyway, obviously he is now ok, but I am extremely wary of letting ear infections cure themselves, just because of my experience.

[deleted account]

Yea if the infection keeps coming back though, it might be a blockage issue, putting olive oil drops directly in the ear can loosen the wax buildup. Put in 3-5 drops, then wait a few minutes, let it drain, then repeat for a few days. That should clear it out. If its still an issue, it may need an irrigation. Thats getting into sever cases.
Pretty sure if you quit using the q-tips and use the lemon juice to get rid of the infection, then olive oil to clean it from now on, you should be ok.

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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You can go to the store and buy an otoscope and look in the ear yourself so you don't really "have" to go to the doctor. What they are finding is that most ear infections clear up on their own without medication.

http://www.funadvice.com/photos/ear_infe... (picture of a healthy ear drum and a case of acute otitis media [middle ear infection])

[deleted account]

Do his ears feel warm? Is he tugging on them? redness around his ear? Change in eating and flu like symptoms are also common signs of an ear infection. If the infection went away the fever would go away. Any other symptoms, if any, would as well.

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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See yesterday and today he has had a fever, sometimes high and sometimes low. Usually with an ear infection the fever stays high. It's difficult to tell if that is what is causing the fever this time. The last time this happened, back in November, his fever was fluctuating as well, we took him to the clinic and it turned out he had an ear infection. I had no idea otherwise. If I were to try the lemon juice, how would I know if the infection is going away or if he even has one other than going to the doctor?

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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Okay, I'm going to have to look into it. I really hate giving her Benadryl all the time. :/

[deleted account]

2tbs of it a day.



You can get supplement form as well,

My daughter doesn't get sick, I've never had to treat her for anything. I've suggested it to friends and they just mix it with juice or tea.

[deleted account]

Its rare, but it can cause issues. If he currently has an infection, real lemon juice in his ear will get rid of the infection. Then try cleaning his ears like i said. If that doesn't stop them, you should take him to the doctor to see about getting the ear wax removed, if that's the issue.

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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Julianne, have you ever tried giving your daughter apple cider and vinegar? If so, how did you do it?

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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Thanks ladies. You have given some great advice. I would rather try some of these things out before jumping into anything major.

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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So...seriously, how do you give apple cider vinegar for allergies?

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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Irrigating is safer than using a q-tip. I can't irrigate my daughter's ears because of her tubes, but you can do your son's. I'd ask the doctor or a nurse for a lesson in how to do it properly (I never learned how since I can't do it anyway).

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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See I was always told not to clean their ears when they were a baby, but after that, I was never told anything. If there is too much of a wax build up won't that effect his hearing though?

[deleted account]

I use olive oil to wash our ears. Some people use mineral oil but olive oil is more natural. If you use q-tips no matter how gentle you are you could push the wax back into the ear causing it to clog up, resulting in an ear infection. Also little bits of cotton can get stuck in the ear. I just take some of the oil, and put it on a face cloth and use my pinky to clean it out. It takes care of everything you can see. Anything else is suppose to be there. Bath time removes any excess oil. Olive oil is really good for your skin anyways, so a little left over is beneficial.

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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Yea, she hates the Benadryl so I can't imagine how awful it would be to try to get her to take vinegar. :/

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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Hmm maybe use a syringe or something similar. That's what I use to give him medications. But, I can only imagine how gross apple cider and vinegar would taste. He would probably have one little taste and fight me for the rest.

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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Technically, you're not supposed to clean their ears at all. The waxy buildup prevents debris and bacteria from entering the ear canal and causing infections.

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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Actually I'm kind of serious because I have to give my daughter Benadryl every night for her allergies and I hate doing it. We've tried Zyrtec, Claritin, and natural remedy tabs, even local raw honey, but nothing else works. So if apple cider vinegar works I wanna know how to get the little imp to take it! :P

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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When I was a kid I had tubes put in my ears and my adenoids removed too, not my tonsils though.

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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Julianne, I do clean his ears with Q-Tips, but I also clean my 4 year olds ears with them as well. I try to be gentle. What else could you use to clean them?

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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I'm not saying you shouldn't do apple cider vinegar but I am curious as to how you get a child to take that? ;)

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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Yep, before Sam had her tubes put in she would get an ear infection and a raging sinus infection at the same time. It was horrible. But, she needed the tubes whereas your son probably doesn't. She also needed to have her tonsils and adenoids removed, too. Poor kid has her daddy's allergies so she was always hacking and sneezing. :/

[deleted account]

Are you cleaning them with q-tips? That causes ear infections. From personal experience quite a lot of people use cotton swaps for cleaning their ears, its really bad though.

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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hmm that's a good idea Kate. I had no idea that allergies could possibly effect a child's ears, but I guess with ears, nose, and throat being all one connection, it makes sense. I will look into that. Thanks.

Kate CP - posted on 01/18/2011

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I'd ask the doctor about checking him for seasonal allergies. Maybe something as simple as a little Benadryl before bed during his allergy season would keep the ear infections at bay?

Bonnie - posted on 01/18/2011

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Hi Kate, he hasn't used a pacifier since he was around 8 months old. I haven't noticed dark circles under his eyes. His eye lids get red and puffy at times, but I figure that is from being tired and perhaps not getting enough sleep.

[deleted account]

I've *heard* that ear infections are common and tubes shouldn't be used unless a child has 6 or more in one year. Not sure how true that is. I don't have personal experience with ear infections, so I may not be the best to give an opinion or advice. Don't kick yourself over not being able to breastfeed. There's no guarantee that he wouldn't be getting them if you had breastfed him. I was breastfed and extremely healthy. My sister was also breastfed and sickly...including chronic ear infections. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for breastfeeding if at all possible. But it's just one of MANY factors that determine these types of things.

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