Ear infections are one of the most common reasons that parents take their children to the doctor. If your child is having chronic ear infections, however, your pediatrician will eventually recommend that your child see an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT.
However, before your pediatrician gets to that recommendation, your child may have already had several ear infections.
Children and Ear Infections
In many less serve cases, an ear infection will clear up on its own within a week. In fact, one study indicated that 60 percent of kids feel better in just one day.
However, even if your children successfully fight off an ear infection on their own, there may still be lingering fluids in the ear. These fluids can cause more ear infections or more serious problems. Recurring ear infections are definitely a good reason to schedule an appointment with an ENT.
Why are Children More Prone to Ear Infections?
Children have special needs, and their ears are no exception. Compared to adults, children have smaller, unusually shaped heads. This differing shape means that they are more susceptible to ear infections than adults.
The ears cannot drain properly to the back of the nose in some situations, and bacteria gets trapped, causing infections. As children age, the drainage canal becomes longer and more vertical, making ear infections much less common. Children with Down syndrome and certain facial abnormalities also tend to get more ear infections.
Generally, by the time your child is between the ages of 3 and 5, he or she will start outgrowing chronic ear infection problems. However, if a child older than five is still having chronic problems, then you might want to consider treatment options.
When to Visit an ENT
Every situation is different, but if your child has had 3 or more ear infections in the past six months, or 4 or more ear infections in the past 12 months, then it might be time to visit an ENT.
If prescribed antibiotics do not seem to be effective for your child, then this may be a sign of a more serious problem. In addition, if you notice that your child is having trouble hearing or there are language delays or learning problems, then you will want to see an ENT as soon as possible.
An ENT can do a complete consultation to determine which treatment option is right for your child. One of the most common solutions is to implant tubes in your child’s ears.
This surgical procedure places tiny tubes in your child’s ears to help the fluid to drain from the ears. These tubes help prevent the bacteria buildup that normally causes ear infections in children.
Although theses tubes cannot definitively stop ear infections, most children who have this procedure show a significant decrease in the number of ear infections. The tubes will eventually fall out on their own as your child grows, so there is no need for an additional procedure to remove them.
Another potential solution is simply to drain the fluid from your child’s ears. This procedure involves making a small incision in the eardrum to drain the fluid.
A tiny tube is then placed to be sure that this hole does not close and the ear continues to drain. The tube is actually left in place and will eventually fall out on its own in most cases.
Call Dr. Joshua Light for an Appointment
We understand that having a child with near-constant ear infections is stressful and exhausting. You also hate to see your child in pain, so you want a solution as soon as possible.