Ear infections in babies are extremely common. 5 out of 6 children will get at least one ear infection before preschool. The small size and position of their eustachian tubes make draining fluid from behind the eardrum more difficult. Ear infections develop when this fluid trapped behind the eardrum becomes infected. This article will list the most common baby ear infection symptoms to look out for.
It may be challenging to determine if your baby has an ear infection because babies and toddlers have not developed the language skills necessary to communicate that their ears hurt. To help make identifying an ear infection a little easier, here is a list of symptoms your baby may develop, indicating an ear infection.
1. Tugging or Rubbing The Ear
Ear infections are painful. Babies and toddlers often tug, rub, or swat at their ears to relieve pain and discomfort. If you notice your baby tugging or rubbing at their ears, they may have an ear infection.
2. Difficulty Sleeping
If your baby has an ear infection and you lay them down to rest, a shift in the pressure and fluid behind the eardrum can cause the pain to worsen. This often leads to sleeping difficulties or waking up more than usual.
3. Ear Drainage
Although this does not happen for all children with ear infections, ear drainage is an unmistakable symptom of an ear infection in babies. If your child has thick, yellow, or bloody fluid or pus coming from their ear, this is a sign the eardrum has ruptured. Ruptured eardrums are not serious and will usually heal on their own within a few weeks.
4. Difficulty Hearing
When babies have an ear infection, fluid builds up behind the eardrum and can result in temporary hearing loss. If your baby has an ear infection, you may notice they do not respond to sounds as they usually would.
5. Crying More Than Usual
Most babies with ear infections will cry more than usual because it is the only way they can express that they are experiencing pain. If your child cries more often, is fussier, or is more irritable than usual, they may have an ear infection.
Some babies with an ear infection may develop a fever. If your baby or toddler has a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, they may need to be evaluated by your doctor for an ear infection.
7. Loss of Balance
The balance center of the body is located within the ears. When fluid builds up in the inner ear and puts pressure on the eardrum, some babies or toddlers can experience a loss of balance or become more unsteady or clumsy.
8. Loss of Appetite
Babies with ear infections often experience a loss of appetite due to the pressure in the middle ear when the child swallows. This pressure can lead to pain and loss of appetite. If your baby refuses bottles or feedings, consider having their ears checked.
What To Do if Your Baby Has an Ear Infection
Ear infections are relatively easy to diagnose by your doctor and are most often easily treated with antibiotics. If you are concerned that your child may have an ear infection, talk to your pediatrician as soon as you see signs of an infection.
If you think your baby may have an ear infection, come in now! We accept walk-in pediatric visits at our Amory and Starkville locations between 8 am and 5 pm. Or text us to schedule an appointment at 662-256-9331.