Ear infections are one of the most common infectious diseases in infants, but only in infants that are at least six months old. Find out why a parent should never make assumptions about their baby's health with help from a pediatrician in this free video on babies and health care.
Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill, and today we're going to be talking about ear infections in infants. Now, ear infections are one of the most common infectious diseases in infants, but I want to qualify which infants, because they're really quite rare before at least six months of age. They really kick in toward late infancy, nine to 12 months of age is when we start to see them, especially if you have a newborn, a child who is not yet three months old. I would never assume that what's wrong with him is an ear infection. If they're unusually fussy and certainly if they have a fever, that baby needs to be evaluated immediately by a doctor. A fever in a child younger than three months of age, it's never normal, it's not okay, at least not without a really thorough medical evaluation. Now, babies in their infancy, before 12 months, get ear infections all the time. How do you know they have an ear infection? Well, they may pull at their ears but a lot of infants pull at their ears all the time anyways. So, how do you know what's going on? Usually, an ear infection follows a cold. It's rarely the first part of a cold, usually the child's had the cold for at least three or four days, often a little longer and then the ear infection comes along and causes more trouble. Your baby might have had a little fever at the beginning of the cold, not had a fever for a day or two, and then gotten the fever back. That's always alarming to us. The fever once it goes should stay away. If it's been gone for 24 hours, your baby also should not be getting a fever late in the course of the illness. If the baby has had a cold for seven days and now is the first day of the fever, that strongly suggests a sinus infection or an ear infection. Now, we don't know if there's an ear infection until we look in and see the eardrum, the tympanic membrane itself. I really don't know what to make of the outside of the ear being red, that could happen any time they lie on that ear. I have to look in. I can't know until I see. Nobody really can, even then it's not always clear but that's the best way to know. Now if your infant does have an ear infection, chances are good the doctor is going to want to treat with an antibiotic. We often start at Amoxicillin first line. Why? Because it works really well and it only kills the things you want to kill. It's not a scorched Earth antibiotic and kills every bacteria known to man, it just kills the one that cause most ear infections, the ones that cause the most ear infections. So, talk to your doctor about treatment. He or she can also prescribe pain drops. If your baby is really hurting, this stuff is great, Antipyrine Benzocaine, those are the components of these drops. They may go by the name Abiotic or Raglan and that will help a ton with the pain and get your baby to where he and she can get some sleep and feed without tremendous discomfort. Additionally, Tylenol or Motrin will help with the discomfort as well. So, you can use either of those. I don't recommend alternating them, you don't have to do that. Just pick whichever works and be happy with that one. Talking about ear infections in infants, I'm Dr. David Hill.