Actually, only one of my kids has ever had an ear infection -- Conner, and his lasted well into 3 months courtesy of mis-shapen ear tubes, most likely. He had tubes placed when he was 1 and he had a couple of infections after that and then we had to have them manually pulled when he was 4 (they never fell-out).
Signs of ear infections
- For babies it tends to be crying while they're eating their bottle (they'll suck for a minute, and then the pressure changes in their ears so it's painful, esp. if they're more flat)
- Crying after you lay them down (like they're hurting, not just like they're tired)
- Pulling at their ears (my kids do this all the time anyway, so that doesn't help)
- Runny nose, boogery eyes.
- In older children it's obviously them saying their ears hurt.
Ears tend to hurt a lot at bedtime, as the temperature is getting colder and as that changes the pressure on their ear drum hurts as well. My ears often will hurt after dinner when I have a cold, and then they'll go away. You can always lay on a hot pad and that will help stabilize the temperature changes.
If it's more than just at bedtime I usually take them into the doctor. Back in "my day" they used to give antibiotics for any ear infection, but they are finding that more and more are viruses and they want to wait it out and see if it gets worse or gets better.
For me, the need for antibiotics would depend on a few factors:
1. How painful it is, if they aren't willing to give antibiotics, can you get a drop for pain in the ear? If the child's screaming in pain I would most likely just start an antibiotic.
2. Have they had them often before? If it's kink in the ear tube, it's likely that fluid builds-up and gets gross in there. Discuss the history with your doctor (or remind them of it).
3. Your doctor's willingness to give you the prescription and let you make the call. A lot of times they'll give an RX so you can fill it if you feel like it's necessary. Maybe also get some pain drops as well. I appreciate it when my doctor allows me to "make the call".
I would like to make a plug here for how important it is to NOT over-use antibiotics. There are super bugs out there, and the time for child to build-up an immune system and immunity is while they're young. If you keep them in a bacteria-free environment it's going to be difficult for them to do that. Treat symptoms, give love -- but re-think yourself when you're wanting antibiotics.
BUT, in some cases they're totally necessary, and ears can definitely be one of them. I think most doctors are willing to talk this out with you. I think that many parents go in insititing that he provide them with a prescription for relief, when that may only come from kleenex and love. Just let him know you want a well-thought out decision, and that you're fine to wait a bit and see.
In other news I got a coccyx series of x-rays today and I will be heading into the spine clinc sometime in the next week or so to get a cortisone shot where it hurts. I am also heading to the podiatrist next week for 3 ingrown toenails. Just gettin' my tune-up, I guess. :)