Illness is an inevitable part of childhood. Children will get sick and each illness may affect different children to different degrees. Diseases can be devastating for anyone, but it seems particularly unfair when they attack children. Unfortunately, many diseases seem to take a special interest in the young, infecting them more frequently and vigorously than they do adults. Children are more susceptible to diseases for a number of reasons. The major reason for children’s increased susceptibility is that they have had limited exposure to diseases and therefore haven’t yet built the immunologic defenses required to fend off certain diseases.
The environment plays an important role as well. Children in day care centers and in school pass infections around and then take them home and pass them to siblings and parents. This is a cycle that is difficult to break. Children also don’t always practice good hygiene and that makes them both susceptible to as well as good transmitters of disease. Many human infections are caused by either bacteria or viruses. Immunisation is available to prevent many important bacterial diseases. Viruses pose a considerable challenge to the body’s immune system because they hide inside cells.
This makes it difficult for antibodies to reach them. A majority of children, at one time or other suffers some or the other form of fungal infection. For instance, if a child develops a rash on the buttocks or white patches in the mouth, it is as a result of fungal or yeast infection. A child’s immune system isn’t as effective as an adult’s because it’s still developing. This makes it harder for children to fight infections. EAR INFECTION: An ear infection is a common type of infection and is the result of an invasion of bacteria or viruses into the ear.
An ear infection is a general term for several types of infections of the ears. Ear infections are very common in small children. Ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. Adults can also get ear infections, but they are less common. Ear infections are the second most commonly diagnosed illness in children The infection usually affects the middle ear and is called otitis media. The tubes inside the ears become clogged with fluid and mucus.
This can affect hearing, because sound cannot get through all that fluid. Bacterial ear infections generally begin with a cold or other upper respiratory tract infection. Like bacterial ear infections, ear infections of viral origins also begin with respiratory infections which are spread through person-to-person contact.. Kids can get a lot of ear infections. In fact, 2 out of 3 times, when kids get colds, they also wind up with infections in their ears. The main reasons are that their immune systems are immature and that their little ears don’t drain as well as adults’ ears do.
SYMPTOMS: Ear infections are not always easy for a parent to diagnose, because the symptoms can be vague and mimic those of a regular cold or flu. In fact, ear infections often start as a cold with a cough and a runny nose. If a baby has a fever and is becoming more irritable. He may also pull on his ears and seem crankier when lying down, because this position causes the fluid to push on the eardrum, resulting in more discomfort. Pain is the number one symptom. We may also notice the following symptoms: Reduced appetite Difficulty sleeping.
A yellow or whitish fluid draining from the ear. This doesn’t happen to most children, but it’s a sure sign of infection Unpleasant smell. Trouble hearing quiet sounds. DIAGNOSIS: Ear infections are diagnosed by an ear exam. Signs of an infection include dilated blood vessels, bulging of the ear drum, and collected fluids in the middle ear. For children who are critically ill, needle aspiration of fluids in the middle ear followed by bacterial culture can be used to determine which bacteria are responsible for the infection.
The only way to know for sure if a child has an ear infection to go to doctor to check inside ear with a device called an otoscope. This is basically just a tiny flashlight with a magnifying lens for the doctor to look through. A healthy eardrum looks sort of clear and pinkish-gray. An infected eardrum looks red and swollen. REMEDIES: The goal of treatment for most doctors is to rid the middle ear of infection before more serious complications set in. Treatment usually involves eliminating the causes of the ear infection, killing any invading bacteria, boosting the immune system, and reducing swelling in the eustachian tube.
With appropriate antibiotic treatment, more than half of infected children still have fluid remaining in the middle ear, with gradual clearing over time. The antibiotic Amoxicillin (a type of penicillin) is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for ear infections, and a macrolide (erythromycin, azithromycin, or clarithromycin) can be prescribed for children with penicillin allergies. Sometimes ear pain isn’t caused by infection, and some ear infections may get better without antibiotics. Using antibiotics cautiously and with good reason helps prevent the development of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics.
Stopping the medicine too soon could allow the infection to come back. It’s also important for child’s follow-up visit, so that the doctor can check if the infection is gone. PREVENTION: The biggest cause of middle ear infections is the common cold, so avoiding cold viruses is good for ears, too. No vaccines are currently available for ear infections, but several are being developed. To prevent ear infections, reducing certain environmental exposures can help reduce the risk for ear infections. Here are some things a child must do to lower your child’s risk for ear infections.
Vaccinate child against the flu. Wash hands frequently. Avoid exposing baby to cigarette smoke. Don’t allow sick children to spend time together. COMPLICATIONS: Left untreated, ear infections can lead to serious complications, including hearing impairment and subsequent developmental delays in speech, cognitive abilities, and performance in school. Questionnaire: Parent: How common are ear infections in young children? Doctor : Between 60 and 80 percent of infants have at least one time by one year of age. By age three, it’s 80 to 90 percent. Parent: Are all ear infections alike? Doctor: No.
They come in two types: outer ear and middle ear. Outer ear infections usually occur when children get water in the ear (swimmer’s ear). Inner ear infections tend to occur where children congregate in large numbers, such as day-care centers. Parent: How can you be sure if the child has an inner ear infection? Doctor: If the ear is reddish and bulging with pus, that’s likely an infection. However, there are other conditions that can make an ear drum look red, including fever or just crying a lot. A special instrument called a tympanogram can also be used to test for ear drum mobility.
Parent: What if the infection is mild? Doctor: Many parents insist on antibiotics when their child has a mild ear infection. But many of these mild infections are caused by viruses that cause the common cold. Viruses do not respond to antibiotic treatment. Parent: What if my child’s ear infection continues despite antibiotics? Doctor: Generally, if the child has fluid in both ears for more than three to six months and it is affecting their hearing, or if they have recurrent ear infections, then they may need to see an ENT specialist for the placement of ear tubes.