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Ear Infections

What is an ear infection?

The portion of the ear that lies just behind the ear drum is called the middle ear. Once in a while fluid builds up in the middle ear and at times this fluid gets infected. However, the fluid is usually drained out into the throat by the help of tubes known as Eustachian tubes. It is only when these tubes stop performing their function, if they get blocked for what ever reason. 

Can nose-blowing cause an ear infection?

The answer is yes, it most definitely can. When you blow your nose, some of the fluid comes out, while some of it enters the ear through the Eustachian tube. Try instead to take in the mucous and cough it out from your mouth. If you simply must blow your nose, don't close one nostril and blow out from the other. Blow out from both nostrils. 

How do I know if my infant has an ear infection?

The symptoms of an ear infection are: fever, tugging at ears, shaking of the head, discomfort, crying and a recent bout of cold or cough). Not all children exhibiting symptoms such as these have ear infections so if you suspect an infection, its best to have your paediatrician look at your child's ear.   

Are antibiotics necessary for treating ear infections?

While we don't realise it at this stage, ear infections can take a pretty serious if they don't heal by themselves. The infection may eat away at the bone in the ear, and may even start eroding the brain tissue, manifesting in meningitis. This is, of course, a delayed result, and only if the ear infection is consistently ignored. Thus if you are hesitant about giving your child antibiotics, you could wait for around three days for the infection to clear on its own. If it doesn't, you should take your child to the doctor to get his opinion as to whether he needs to get started on an antibiotic course. Different doctors have different opinions. Some doctors are all too liberal with antibiotic prescriptions, while others are slightly more conservative. 

Are there any home remedies?

Some of the best home remedies include steaming, and applying warm olive oil inside the ear (unless your child is allergic to it). It is best to start home remedies the minute your child complains of an earache, and if the infection doesn't clear within three days, take him to the doctor. Unfortunately, the widespread use of antibiotics to cure ear infections has lead to some bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotics. Certain studies suggest that xylitol, an ingredient found in bubblegum, can help fight ear infections. Studies are still uncertain about the results, so don't pop a bubblegum in your child's mouth just yet. However, the next time you see your child chewing gum, perhaps you don't need to get upset about it either! As long as he brushes his teeth afterwards, it's fine. You could also apply a hot water bottle to the ear, or take a hot bath. This would help clear the wax and relieve pain.

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