Mommy SOS: Ear Infections

My ear hurts mommy.

My ear hurts mommy.

This week’s mommy SOS question  is submitted by…. me!

What do you do for ear infections?

The week before last daycare told me Jasper had been tugging at his ear a bit. I thought maybe it was teething because everytime I think maybe he has an ear infection his ears have been all clear. In fact he’d never had one before. That was two weeks ago from today. The next day, he had a 102 fever that went down to about 101 the day after that.

He didn’t seem bothered at all by the fever.  That Sunday I was riding in the back of the car with him and he opened his mouth and I saw his tonsils. Well, actually what I saw were these enormous bright red blobs in the back of his throat – I assumed they were tonsils but couldn’t be sure because I’ve never actually SEEN tonsils before. (When they are healthy and normal size it’s not like you really notice them back there!).

So I brought him into the pediatrician to take a look at his throat. I was sure it was probably nothing, he was acting pretty normal. But when the dr. took a look he said that on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the worst where the tonsils are so big that they can interfere with breathing Jasper’s were about a 3. He seemed pretty unconcerned though, he said baby tonsils can fluctuate in size and color a lot.

Then he looked in his ears and found fluid in one ear. Now the fever made sense!

The pediatrician said they don’t usually give antibiotics for EIs, which I’m ok with.  He also said it looked like it was the END of the infection.

So it’s been more than a week later and Jasper has been acting a little crankier than normal – nothing major. But things like he skipped his nap at daycare yesterday for the first time ever, he wakes up whining/crying more than normal during the night etc. But mostly what bothers me is that he is still pulling/playing with his ear:

playing with ear

playing with ear

He does it most often when distressed (like in the dreaded car seat) or tired (while nursing) but it’s not just a soothing behavior because it’s always the side that has the fluid.

So my question is what do I do? Do I bring him back to the pediatrician to have it checked? Is it normal for fluid to stay in there for this long? Does the fact that he’s not bothered too much by it mean we should just wait it out?

I’m so new to the whole EI thing, I’m at a loss and could really use your advice.

Also, note to brand new moms or expecting moms: People will try to tell you that if your baby is acting somewhat normal that they can’t POSSIBLY have an ear infection. This is clearly not the case, so trust your mommy instincts and have your baby seen by the pedi if you suspect something.

PS: if you have a Mommy SOS topic/question please email it to me at ariana@becoming-mom dot net!

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Suzanne says:

I know this sounds crazy, but I take my daughter to the chiropractor. We have had great success with that. She went through 2 rounds of antibiotics, but the infection kept coming back. The ear, nose and throat doctor told us she would have fluid on her ears until she got tubes (she has a cleft palate and ear tubes are routine with the palate surgery). Since we have taken her to the chiropractor the fluid is completely gone! Sometimes it takes more than one visit, but it is amazing. Just a side note, but it cured her acid reflux (we were on the max dose of prevacid). Hope this helps…

Eva says:

My little Lauren has had 3 ear infections, and has been given Augmentin twice and Omnicef once. Just be aware that they can cause diarrhea but it helps a LOT if you give the meds with a meal. Also look out for yeasty diaper rash during and after the antibiotics. We’re dealing with that now and it’s no fun for her, poor kiddo.

Shane says:

Looks like previous comments cover most of my thoughts. I’ll only add that G had an ear infection WITHOUT a fever (or least not a high fever). So it was a surprise to us until he had eye gunk to go along w/ the ear infection.

One question that I think is critical to ask your pedi after any non-check up visit is “When should I call you back?” or “what condition or change should warrant a call back to you or the advice line”. Surprisingly they should give you some things to look out for or say “if things haven’t changed in 2 days call me back”. It certainly gives us something to look for instead of freaking out over every little change or symptom.

jenya says:

I would strongly suggest the product “EarCheck”.
It is like thermometer and works great. You put it in baby ear and in one second it will give you results. Essentially there are three possible results:
1.) No fluid
2.) Monitor at home
3.) Go to the doctor
For us this product have been reliable. Sofia has this thing where she pulls on her ear when she is teething. I just check with my monitor to make sure there is no fluid.
And it is not expansive. I think I already “paid” for this for the money I would have spent on co-payment if I did not have this monitor.

liz says:

So, Sorry to hear that, Ariana. My son got his first ear infection at about 6 months. He also has asthma, and first had to use a nebulizer at 4 months. I’ve had TONS of experience with a sick kiddo (unfortunately), and I had a ton of ear infections myself as a child. All of this is an introduction to simply say that I definitely think that you should call the pediatrician back. There were a few times when I called and the dr. said that it was probably nothing, but I was concerned and went in anyway, and I was right. I have encountered a number of mothers who are reluctant to go to the doctor, but my feeling is that if you are worried, go. What’s the worst that could happen? They think you’re too worried? Who cares? Also, my pediatrician always prescribes antibiotics, and it clears right up. (Sorry to be so long winded, especially as a first-time commenter! :))

jbhat says:

Good luck, Ariana. Thankfully, our kiddo has not had any EIs, so I have no advice on that front. I dread that our next one will be cursed with everything under the sun to serve as payback for an “easy” first baby (although we did struggle long and hard with sleeping). Your readers are full of such good advice, so I’ll definitely be referring back here if necessary as time goes on.

ariana says:

Oh my goodness Steph, is there anything you don’t know and haven’t been through??? Wow, what a lot to deal with on TOP of the reflux and allergies :(

I can’t believe that she would act normal through all of that! It’s pretty scary actually.

I would definitely consider cranial sacral, he had it done when he was a baby.. the chiro option sounds really interesting too.

Wow, a lot to think about!

Stephanie says:

My daughter Chloe has quite a history with ear infections. We experienced the same thing you did – she wouldn’t act strangely at all. The first few times she had them, I wouldn’t know until we were at the doctor’s office and he would notice it during a routine check-up, or until one of her ear drums would rupture and we’d see blood and goo dripping out of her ear. THAT was awful.

Like the poster above, we finally went the tube route. We also eventually had her adenoids removed – but this was only after a couple of years of ear infections every 6 – 8 weeks coupled with a speech delay (and speech therapy) due to persistent mucous in the ears (also known as “glue ear.”)

My understanding is that doctors don’t instantly treat with antibiotics for ear infections these days, but if the infection doesn’t go away on its own within a couple of weeks then they will prescribe antibiotics (either as an oral antibiotic, antibiotic ear drops or a combination of the two.) So, if it is still bugging him, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to call the pediatrician again.

Some kids with recurrent ear infections (I know Jasper has only had one, but just in case it happens again) do well with cranial sacral therapy.

Just FYI, there is thought to be a connection between reflux and ear infections in some kids (which our doctor believed was the problem aughter’s case.) Here’s a link( there are many others out there – studies are ongoing):

My daughter first started having ear infections around age one and was plagued with them until she had her adenoids removed last year at age 5. Her situation was pretty extreme, but given the fact Jasper has had issues with reflux, the reflux/ear infection connection is definitely something to keep in mind if he continues to have problems.

ariana says:

Kelsey, wow, that sounds really interesting! And that provider is only probably 20 minutes from us. If it becomes a chronic issue I would definitely go there.

I made an appointment with the pedi for tomorrow. We’ll see what he says. Thanks for your advice everyone, I researched about sweet oil and found this site, which basically says that warmth does the same thing and is a lot less messy:

Leanna, because quoinoa is technically a seed and not a grain, the oils surrounding it are fragile and can go rancid more quickly when ground (unground they are fine!) so it is not recommended to grind and then leave it uncooked for a while. The recipe cooks up a pretty big batch (actually I have been only using about half that recipe!) and will make enough for a few days, so I just grind right before I’m ready to make a batch.

LeAnna says:

Aw, poor baby. My son is 6 months old, and we haven’t had to deal with this. I do remember my Mom putting the oil in my sisters ears. That always seemed to help.
I do have a question that has nothing to do with this post, but I was curious. I have your Quinoa post printed out, but I wondered if you grind it every day before every meal, or will it keep if you grind a few days worth? Thanks in advance!

Kelsey says:

Have you researched chiropractic care? I know that this area of medicine is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have always been tremendously pleased with the results I get from chiropractic care. Ear infections are treatable in this way.

Keri says:

I think I would at least call the doctor back to see what they suggest since it appears that the fluid is not gone. Hadley had fluid in her ear when she was 8 months old. Our doctor prescribed an ear drop that was supposed to dry it up (when it didn’t go away on its own). The drops worked. And, the doctor said she felt better drying up the fluid since it can lead to an infection if the fluid stays on the ear drum for too long. I hope little Jasper is feeling better soon! Oh, and you are so right about babies acting normal when they have fluid in their ears. Hadley never acted fussy or sick. She just played with her ear more.

Katie says:

Ceci has had a rolling ear infection since December. We have been to the doctor every month since then. We have tried ever antibiotic out there and they usually kill the infection but the fluid never goes away. Which causes the infection to flair back up. She has had only a few fevers with her ear infections and she is always in a great mood. Only lately has she been crying at night and in the morning more.

We are actually getting tubes put in tomorrow. We hope this helps her get rid of the fluid and get rid of the ear infections.

Cecilia always liked it when we would hold her close on the side of the ear infection…the warmth helped it.

Not sure if that helps! Best of luck with the little man!

I’d call the pedi’s office, too. Better to just check and see what they think.

KaiRayne says:

I was going to suggest Sweet Oil as well, but it looks like Dyan beat me. lol :)
My oldest son, who is completely vaccinated(until age4) had an ear infection about twice a month. His pedi put tubes in his ears and he was fine. Now my youngest son, who has only been vaxed until he was 15 months old, hasn’t ever had an EI…. then again he also has Autism.(Why we stopped vaxing).
Maybe Jasper still has the fluid in is ear and it itches or make sounds weird to him kind of like he’s underwater. I don’t know that there is really anything you can do for it. I think it just normally clears up on its own. Anyhow…. I hope he feels completely better soon.

Kimberly says:

I would absolutely at least call the advice nurse at your pedi’s office. If it’s just fluid (but not an infection) there’s really nothing to do but wait it out. It is actually somewhat common for kids to get a little fluid in their ears because that Eustachian tube is so short it’s easy for it to not drain well.

My experience with ear infections (with James and my niece) is that they’re always accompanied by a fever (but this is not necessarily true for all babies) so that’s what triggered me to call the doc. My pedi does treat with antibiotics, and James had 10 days of amoxicillin when he was 6 months old. If you feel like Jasper is uncomfortable or in pain, Tylenol will usually help quite a bit. Try pressing gently just below the ear and see if you get a reaction from him. James actually finds that ticklish if he doesn’t have an infection, but it might hurt if he does.

My Mommy SOS is how the heck to get this kid sleeping in his own crib after nearly a year of bedsharing and nursing through the night, without “crying it out.” I can put hiim down in his crib fully asleep and he’ll sleep there from 2-4 hours, but then he’s up and in with us. Ok, I’ve hijacked your post again… but there’s my suggestion! ;)

Dyan says:

Try a little sweet oil (you can find it at herb store, maybe Whole Foods). A few drops will help.

Michelle says:

I would bring him back in. The fluid could have turned to gunk. My son had fluid constantly on his ears that just would not go away and we finally had to get tubes (when he was 2 1/2). How is he sleeping at night? That’s always the major factor for us.