Friday, April 18, 2008

Listen to the ache

For parents, a baby’s cry is painful to the ears but it may also be hurting in the infant’s ears.

By Rachel Goodchild

IT can be overwhelming for new parents to try to diagnose signs and symptoms of illness in their child. Common illnesses such as ear infections and fevers can become mysterious as you wonder exactly which symptoms your child is displaying. Is his/her ear hurting? Is he/she teething? Or is it a sore throat?

Here are some ways to tell whether it is an ear infection.

An older child can tell a parent if his or her ear is hurting. A baby, however, does not have this luxury. It’s up to you, the parent, to observe your baby for the following signs and symptoms, and seek a doctor’s care if necessary

>> Flu symptoms
If your baby has recently had a cold, accompanied by a cough or runny nose, he/she may have also developed an ear infection. This symptom, along with one or more of the following, can be reason to visit your doctor.

>> Tugging at ear
Some babies tug at their ears when they are tired or sleepy. For others, this can be a sign of an ear infection. If your baby does not normally tug at his/her ears, and suddenly begins to, an ear infection may be present.

>> Fussiness
Constant, persistent fussiness is a sign that your baby is uncomfortable. If accompanied by other symptoms, your baby may have an ear infection.

>> Fever
If your baby runs a high fever, some sort of infection is probably present. Consult your doctor to see if your baby has an ear infection.

Unfortunately for parents, most ear infection symptoms are general and also similar to signs of other problems, such as teething.

It can be difficult as a parent to determine if your baby is teething, has an ear infection, or is simply fussy.

For this reason, if you notice anything abnormal, it is wise to seek your doctor’s opinion. He or she can perform a simple exam, and see if the ear canal is red and swollen.

Many times, an antibiotic is prescribed. However, more and more doctors are waiting longer periods of time before doing it so. This allows the body a chance to fight the infection on its own. Either way, be sure to consult with your doctor if you suspect your baby’s ear is infected, so that together, you can begin to make him or her more comfortable.

(the art of parenting, theSun, Tuesday, October 9, 2007, pg. 26)

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