Baby's Ear Ache
Earaches are painful and distressing.
When and where ear pain occurs
Ear pain can occur when your baby is teething, flying in a plane, swimming, or after an illness. Pain can come from the outer or middle ear.
Structure of the ear supports infection
Babies are at risk of ear infection because the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat and nose, is short and straight. This shape makes it easier for bacteria from infections in the nose and throat to travel up into the middle ear. Fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear creating a wet, dark, warm environment, perfect for growing bacteria and viruses. Trapped thick fluid builds up in the middle ear causing the eardrum to bulge. This condition called Acute Otitis Media. If your child's immune system is strong, inflammation and infection will clear and pressure will be relieved before the eardrum perforates. Ear infections are not directly contagious but can follow viral or bacterial illness. Regular hand washing is the best defence against the spread of germs. Fever is nature’s way of fighting bacteria so don’t be too quick to give medications to reduce fever; let fever do its work first. Giving fluids, rest, cuddles, and pain relief may be all your baby needs to recover. Even when the drum perforates, fluid drains and it heals quickly on its own.
Glue ear and grommets
If thick fluid doesn’t drain and is constantly in the middle ear it is referred to as Glue ear, a condition, which stops the ear functioning as it should and results in hearing loss and subsequent behaviour and language problems.
If your baby has more than three or four ear infections a year, a hearing test (by an audiologist) will rule out any hearing loss that can hinder language development.
In-flight earaches occur during take-off and landing due to changes in air pressure within the middle ear. Try reducing your baby's ear pain by getting her to suck on a dummy, breast or bottle when taking-off and landing.
Learn how to clean ears: Caring for newborn sensitive bits
Jan Murray has been committed to studying and working as a Registered Nurse, Midwife and Child Health Nurse for over 25 years. Jan has a bachelor of Behavioural Science, is a mother and nanna, who co-founded and directs Settle Petal. Jan provides information and support for parents to develop their knowledge base and confidence.