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What Causes Ear Infections?
Infection of the middle ear, also called otitis media, is an extremely common disease of early childhood. They often accompany viral infections such as colds, occurring when the lining of the middle ear becomes swollen, causing fluid to build up behind the ear drum.
Ear infections are distressing for children and their parents, but they are usually minor and pass within a few days, even without treatment from a doctor. Home remedies for ear infections are generally more than adequate to treat the problem. Most children will not continue suffering from middle ear infections once they reach four or five years old, and it is rare for adults to develop an ear infection.
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Symptoms and Complications of Ear Infections
Very young children are most vulnerable to ear infections, and while older children may complain of ear pain, many are too young to articulate the pain they feel. If your child has an ear infection you may notice some of the following:
· Pulling or rubbing the ears
· Difficulty sleeping
· Crying more than normal
· Reduced response to noise
· Increased irritability
· Fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees Celsius
· A clear fluid may drain from the child’s ears
Adults with an ear infection may have an earache, high fever, feeling of pressure or blockage in the ear, hearing loss, or dizziness.
If the pressure is extremely high behind the ear drum, it may rupture, causing a discharge of pus and blood. This is not as serious as it sounds, however, as the rupture reduces the pressure and pain, and the rupture will heal.
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Medical Treatment and Home Remedies for Ear Infections
In most cases, ear infections are not serious – they are painful and distressing, but not dangerous. Typically, doctors have a “wait-and-see” approach to treatment, usually preferring to wait several days before prescribing antibiotics. Because the infection is usually caused by a virus, antibiotics aren’t useful in most cases. Doctors will typically recommend pain relief for most cases, and antibiotics only in cases of recurrent ear infection.
In most cases, home remedies for ear infections are just as effective as any treatment a doctor can prescribe. Over-the-counter medications for pain relief are usually the best prospect for relieving your child’s symptoms.
Other home remedies for ear infections include the use of a warm compress, placed over the child’s ear, to reduce pressure and pain inside the ear. A little warm olive oil trickled into the ear can sometimes help relieve pain. (Have the child lay on their other side once the oil has been applied, to prevent it spilling out immediately).
One of the best home remedies for ear infections is simply distractions for your child, to take their mind off the pain. Activities such as reading aloud or playing games can help reduce pain and anxiety.
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