Ear And Sinus Infection In Babies And Its Treatment – An Overall View

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Sinus infection in babies

Earlier it was believed that children are not affected by sinusitis. However, it has been proven that it is a myth and not true. Children do get sinus infections. The symptoms of cold and sinus infection are overlapping. Many of the symptoms are common. It is important to distinguish between them if you want to proceed to go for the right treatment. Differentiating between cold and a sinus infection is not easy. To differentiate between them you should know the difference between the symptoms of cold and sinus infection.

Differences between the symptoms of sinus infection

  • Cold lasts for 5 to 10 days. If the baby has sinus infection, the symptoms for cold will last for more than 10 days without any signs of improvement.
  • The nasal discharge in cold is watery in the beginning and turns thicker. In sinus infection the discharge is yellowish.
  • Low grade fever accompanies cold and last for a day or two. In sinus infection the fever is persistent and lasts for 4 days or more.
  • Cold symptoms include cough, especially in the night. Sinus infection symptoms include swelling or dark circles around the eyes, especially in the morning. Sinus infection is accompanied by bad breath and irritability in children.
  • In rare cases bacterial sinusitis can spread to the central nervous system. Look for symptoms like sensitivity to light, increasing irritability and persistent vomiting to make sure that the infection does not spread to the CNS.

Causes of sinusitis in kids

  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Allergies
  • Cleft palate
  • Abnormalities in nose structure
  • Second hand smoking
  • Enlarged adenoids

Sinusitis in kids can be

  • Acute sinusitis where the symptoms last for less than four weeks and improve with treatment
    Sub acute sinusitis where the symptoms last for more than four weeks and subside gradually with treatment.
  • Chronic sinusitis where the symptoms last for more than eight weeks. It is the result of previous infections that were not treated properly.
    Recurrent sinusitis where acute sinusitis repeats three or more times a year.

Ear Infection

Ear infections are caused when a baby catches cold or has sinus infection or allergies. They can be caused by viruses or bacteria. Children between 6 months to 2 years old are affected more by ear infections because their immunity is low and the size of their Eustachian tubes is smaller.

Symptoms of ear infections

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  • If your baby keeps on tugging at his ears for no reason, it could be an ear infection. Kids tend to pull on their ears when they have pain and discomfort in the ears.
  • If your baby has ear infection, he or she may have discomfort while lying down. When your baby lies down, the pressure is shifted to the middle ear. This causes pain.
  • Ear infections may be accompanied by drainage of fluid from the ears.
  • The child will be fussier, more irritable and crankier.
  • If your little one does not respond to sound, it may indicate difficulty in hearing resulting from ear infection.
  • When the body’s immune system tries to fight the ear infection, the child may have low grade fever.
  • Loss of appetite, vomiting and digestion problems may also accompany ear infections because the virus or bacteria that cause the ear infection can also affect the gastrointestinal system of the baby.
  • Your child may be clumsy and out of balance because the center of balance is located in the inner ear.

Treatment For Sinus And Ear Infection

Sinus infection

Sinus infections can be acute which lasts for less than 4 weeks, subacute that lasts for 4 to 8 weeks, chronic that lasts for 8 weeks or longer and recurrent. Sinus infections may be caused by bacteria or virus or exposure to smoke. There is a growing awareness about the dangers of using antibiotics unnecessarily.

Do you want to know if antibiotics are necessary to treat sinusitis in kids? You should know a few facts to get answer to this question.

  • A research has proven that more than 80% of sinus infections improve on their own without antibiotics.
  • Earlier it was believed that antibiotic treatment is essential to treat kids with sinus infections. Today, the ‘American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommends ‘wait and watch’ approach before prescribing antibiotics to treat sinusitis in children.
  • Sinus infections caused by virus and smoke cannot be treated with antibiotics.
  • If the kid is not dramatically ill, it may improve on its own.
  • Your child needs antibiotics when the nasal discharge is thick and colored.
  • If the symptoms persist for more than a week or 10 days your child should be given antibiotics.
  • If there is double worsening of symptoms it is understood that it is bacterial infection and it needs antibiotics.
  • Not all sinuses need antibiotics. Most of them go on their own or with simple remedies like saline irrigations, nasal aspirators etc. Don’t demand antibiotics from your doctor. Wait and watch. Trust your pediatrician to come up with the right decision.

Ear infection

Most children get ear infections. Children are usually infected in the middle ear behind the ear drum. The ear infections may be caused bacteria or viruses. It is generally believed that antibiotics are the only solution to treat ear infections but are antibiotics really necessary for treating ear infections in children? The truth is that they are needed only in some cases. In most of the cases they are not necessary.

Why are antibiotics not needed in some cases? 

  • If ear infections are caused by virus antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics kill bacteria and not virus.
  • Antibiotics do not help in giving relief from pain. They are not pain killers. They do not give pain relief for the first 24 hours. If the pain is severe, your children should be given pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen for children.
  • Ear infections go off on their own in two or three days.
  • Pediatricians say that children who are not given antibiotics recover just as well as the children who are given antibiotics.
  • You should see the pediatrician only if the symptoms do not improve in three or more days.

When are antibiotics really needed?

  • When the child is under 6 months old.
  • When the child is between 6 months to 2 years old and the pediatrician is sure that it is an ear infection.
  • When the child has health issues like poor immunity, cleft palate, Down syndrome and cochlear implant etc.
  • When the child has chronic fluid in the ears.

The different types of saline nasal drops

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Saline nasal drops are a great option for anyone who is suffering from nasal congestion. It is a blessing to little kids who do not know how to blow their noses and for infants who are too young to be given cold medications. Although there are other nasal sprays like decongestant spray and steroid spray, they are not recommended for little children. Saline nasal drops are the best and the safest for kids.

What are the different types of saline nasal drops? Which is the best one? Where to buy saline nasal drops? Can you make them at home? If yes, how to make it? I am sure all these questions are popping up in your mind. Do you want the answers? Go ahead.

What are the different types of saline nasal drops?

Saline nasal drops are nothing but a mixture of common salt and water. There are three basic types of saline rinse based on the amount of salt in the solution. They are isotonic, hypertonic and hypotonic.

  • Isotonic – ‘Iso’ means equal. It matches the saline content in your body. That is why it is called isotonic. What is the proportion of water and salt in isotonic? Eight ounces of water and quarter teaspoon of salt is the proportion.
  • Hypertonic – ‘Hyper’ means high. When the salt concentration is more in the solution and it has a salt concentration higher than that of your body, it is called hypertonic. Eight ounces of water and half teaspoon of salt is the proportion for hypertonic.
  • Hypotonic – ‘Hypo’ means low. When the salt concentration is less it is called hypotonic.

Which is the best?

  • Hypotonic saline solution is generally not used in practice because they do not yield any results. What about hypertonic and isotonic – which is the best?
  • Hypertonic solution is recommended by doctors when the congestion is severe. When the salt content is high it draws fluid and clears mucus more effectively. Salt has the property of diffusing water from the bacteria that result in shriveling of bacteria. Eventually, it causes the death of bacteria. However, it may cause burning or stinging sensation. Here is a warning: Don’t use hypertonic nasal sprays for kids below 5 years.
  • It is clear that isotonic is the best option for children.

Where to buy saline nasal spray?

It can be bought at pharmacies . It can be made at home if you feel preservatives in the spray are not good for your child.

How to make saline nasal spray at home?

Take eight ounces of hot water and add ¼ teaspoon of natural sea salt. Avoid adding iodized salt because it may cause burning sensation. Mix well. Fill the solution in a spray bottle once it reaches cool temperature.

Will the preservatives in nasal spray harm your baby ?

The short answer is no. They serve a important function of preventing bacterial growth in the solution. Their concentration levels are low enough and do not cause any deleterious side effects.

If your child has fever, cough and trouble in breathing etc. along with nasal congestion, you should consult a doctor.

Is it safe to use nasal drops on my baby? 

Nose drops for sick baby

When blocked nose causes a lot of discomfort even to an adult, what can you say for the babies? It is sure to a cause a lot of discomfort. Nights become miserable for the kids and the parents as well. I am sure as a parent you are desperate to get rid of the blocked nose of your baby. Many nasal drops, with the promise of giving instant relief from blocked nose, are available in the market? Is it safe to use nasal drops on my baby – This is a frequently raised question. Do you want to know the answer? Here is an analysis.

There are three types of nasal sprays available in the market.

  • Decongestant nasal sprays – They contain medications like oxymetazoline or phenylphrine or xylometazoline or naphazoline etc. They help in narrowing the blood vessels in your nose. This helps in reduction of swelling in the nose and gives instant relief from nose congestion.
  • Saline nasal sprays – It is a spray containing a mixture of salt and water. It works by softening and loosening hardened nasal mucus and clearing it out from the nasal passages.
  • Steroid nasal sprays – Medicines used in this spray include Fluticasone, monetasone, triamcinolone or beclomethasone.

Which of the above are safe for your baby?

Saline nasal sprays are the safest for your baby because they do not contain any drugs.

  • A saline nasal spray loosens the mucus. You can then extract the mucus with a nasal aspirator.
  • Saline drops don’t cause any side effects.
  • Saline drops can be used in babies from birth and in older babies and children.
  • You can use it as often as needed to clear your child’s blocked nose.
  • They do not affect other medicines.
  • You can use a saline spray or drops, both are effective.
  • Saline drops combined with nasal aspiration can be done before each feed and bedtime.

However, you should be careful to follow a few basic tips to avoid undesired side effects.

  • You should make sure you clean your hands to avoid further infection in the baby.
  • You should not share droppers. One bottle per baby.
  • You should not place the dropper outside the nostril and should not insert inside. Keep it right at the opening of the nostrils and squeeze one or two drops.

Decongestant nasal sprays

Decongestant nasal sprays are not recommended for little ones below the age of 6. If your child is above 6 years, it is not advisable to use them for more than 3 to 4 days. When you use for 5 days or more it may cause a rebound effect. When the effect of the nasal drop wears off it may worsen the congestion.

Steroid nasal sprays

Steroid nasal sprays are not advisable because they cause side effects like burning and stinging, itching and soreness.

Verdict

When helping your baby to overcome his nasal congestion or blocked nose, saline nasal drops are an essential aid. When combined with a nasal aspirator, it can be a real help .

Further reading :

The different types of saline nasal drops.