Earaches and ear infections are a common occurrence in early childhood, and may be the both painful and distracting for teething babies, busy toddlers and preschoolers.
Symptoms in very young children and those with delayed communication include crankiness; fever; pulling at one or both ears; inability to sleep; and drainage from an ear canal.
Although antibiotics are less frequently prescribed than in earlier years, parents of children with lower immune response or chronic health conditions may pressure medical professionals for immediate treatment. Children with disabilities may be only slightly more susceptible to earaches caused by inner ear infections following colds; congestion due to allergies; foreign objects in the ear; reaction to certain foods; and challenging behavior. Some children develop 'swimmers ear' infections from taking lessons or playing in a pool.
Many young children do not feel pain with a viral or bacterial ear infection, or may not be able to localize the area of discomfort, or understand how to communicate ear pain. For this reason an 'ear check' is standard during regular doctor visits.
At one 'well-baby' visit, I was waiting for a positive comment about how long it had been since my son had experienced an illness, when the pediatrician asked, "How long has he had this problem?" Out of the blue, something awful was dripping out my son's left ear. That was his first symptom of the ear infection.
Because my son's ear canals were especially small as a consequence of Down syndrome, he had regular visits to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor. Occasionally he would need to have a build-up of ear wax removed. During one visit when my son complained of ear discomfort, the doctor found a tiny piece of hair in the canal. He had been uncomfortable following a haircut and told me he felt a bug in his ear. When the doctor removed the hair, my son turned to me and said, "See!?!"
It could have been worse. A friend whose father was a well established pediatrician once told me a story of looking into a child's ear and seeing a teddy bear eye staring back at him.
Browse at your local pharmacy or online retailer for items like: The Doctor Mom Original Pocket Otoscope or Swimming Headbands.