My toddler keeps getting ear infections which take ages to clear up. What can I do to prevent them?
Sally, Umm Suqiem
We’ve all been there, pacing the floor with a grizzly bubba who won’t sleep, and absolutely refuses to cheer up no matter what we do. And yet, there’s no real outward sign of illness – not even a mild fever. Of course, once doc confirms that junior is in fact suffering from acute otitis, all that whining and ear-pulling suddenly makes sense – and we parents feel mighty guilty.
But we shouldn’t. Because, although ear infections aren’t serious, they can be seriously irritating, difficult for parents to spot, and hard to get rid of. In fact, says Dr Kamal Akkach, a specialist in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Health Bay Polyclinic, 80 to 90 per cent of infants aged between 6-24 months, have suffered from ear infections – so you and bubba are most certainly not alone.
The cause, he says, is two-fold. Either your tot has picked up a virus or he’s got a bacterial nasty, which he could have caught from almost anywhere. However, Dr Kamal points out that kids in daycare suffer from otitis more frequently than rugrats at home. And if you have smokers in your house, banish them and their stinky habit to the garden, because tobacco smoke will magnify the problem.
Antibiotics, Dr Kamal explains, can be helpful in some recurring cases, although if mums can breastfeed their babies for at least three months, bubs will have some degree of protection against such nasties. The symptoms are elusive, sometimes manifesting in fevers, vomiting and upset stomachs, but more often than not, just causing irritability as a result of the pain.
Because of this, a trip to the clinic, says Dr Kamal, is the only way to confirm otitis ‘orrible.
Once confirmed, though, observation, regular doses of brufen and calpol, lots of sympathy and possibly some ear drops and antibiotics, will usually see your tot smiling again within 48 hours.
Dr Kamal Akkach is an American Board-certified double specialist in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Health Bay Polyclinic in Umm Suqeim, 04 348 7140; www.healthbaypolyclinic.com.