Infections in Babies: How They Happen and How To Take Care Of It

If you’ve had kids, you know how easy it is for your baby to get infections. New parents especially tend to struggle with anxiety and worry over their children’s health. Many a sleepless night have been spent in tending to sick newborns and babies. And this is especially true when the child is suffering from the all too common ear infection.

Why has my newborn become sick so quickly?

The reason new babies get infected easily is that their immune systems are in the process of development. Babies are dependent on their mothers’ breast milk to obtain the antibodies that their bodies cannot yet create for themselves. Because of their naturally weakened state, they are prone to microbial attacks, especially bacterial infections. Plus, premature babies, and babies born to a sick mother are more prone to illnesses.

Doctors tend to prescribe antibiotics immediately if they diagnose a bacterial infection. This is for two reasons: firstly, babies, in their naturally weakened state, quickly fall prey to the effects of an infection, so it’s best to treat the infection quickly to avoid complications in the future. And secondly, babies respond very well to antibiotic treatment.

A sick newborn will often scare parents into fretting over whether their child is not naturally as healthy as is normal. The fact is that it’s remarkably easy for babies to get sick, as mentioned before. Someone with a cold or flu could pass on germs to the baby. Or your child may develop  bacterial infections by breathing in the fluid in the birth canal, which could host bacteria. This could cause the child to get sick any time between childbirth to a few days later. The important thing is that the infection is spotted and treated as soon as possible.

Symptoms and Treatment

Now, it can be difficult to tell if your baby is indeed suffering from ant infections because some of the symptoms this article talks about could even be displayed by non-infected babies. However, prolonged symptoms usually indicate there is something wrong that needs to be checked out. Keep a watchful eye out for:

  • Rapid/shallow breathing
  • Unwillingness to feed
  • Difficulty in sleeping or excessive sleeping
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • High or low body temperature
  • Visible pallor or grayish skin
  • Bluish tinge around mouth

Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics immediately upon observing these symptoms, before the results for tests have come back. This is because tests could take around 2 or 3 days, and there is a very real danger that possible infections could quickly morph into something serious. An infection might warrant the newborn being assigned to an incubator or warming bed that will regulate their temperature.

Viral infections, on the other hand, are treated by providing the baby with supportive care that facilitates its body’s fight against the virus.

What about Ear Infections?

Ear infections happen when the middle ear suffers from inflammation and swelling. They are some of the most common infections out there. In fact, it’s more likely your baby will fall prey to an ear infection than avoid it, so parents generally do not need to panic too hard. However, it is important to take ear infections seriously and get them treated ASAP to avoid damage being caused to the eardrum.

You can detect an ear infection by seeing if your baby seems prone to irritability and fusses, keeps tugging at their ear or has fluid leaking from the ear. Plus, ear infections commonly follow colds, so a stuffy nose or aggravating cold could be indicators.

Most doctors will hold off on recommending antibiotics right away, because ear infections tend to clear up on their own in a couple of days. Additionally, there is the risk that too many antibiotics too quickly might help build a resistance to them. However, if the infection seems to need help even after 3 days, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to bring it down.

Isn’t Prevention Better Than Cure?

While it is true that babies are extremely prone to ear infections, this in no way means that there’s no point in preventing them as much as possible. Some prevention methods include:

  • Providing the baby with mother’s milk, since this contains the antibodies that the baby cannot form itself quite yet, and so boost its natural immunity. Additionally, older babies should be fed fresh fruits and seafood to further increase immunity.
  • Vaccinating the child against bacteria that cause ear infections, among other illnesses.
  • Make your child drink fluids sitting up instead of lying down.
  • Eliminate items that could be causing allergies in your child. Allergens can help fluid build in the nasal passages and ear canal. Don’t let pets go into the baby’s sleeping area, and remove toys from there as well.
  • Opt for a daycare with fewer kids enrolled. Kids in a crowd setting are more likely to pick up each other’s germs and bacteria.
  • Pacifiers are a hotbed for bacteria that could potentially cause ear infections. It’s best to hold off on giving your child one.

Home Treatments for Ear Infections

Home treatments generally focus on relieving the pain your child is going through.

  • On a doctor’s recommendation, Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be given to children who are older than 6 months to reduce the pain. It’s best to medicate the child before it goes to sleep. However, avoid over the top ear drops to the best of your ability. Always use medication that has been prescribed by your doctor or pediatrician.
  • A few drops of mildly heated olive oil can help with the pain. Similarly, a warm compress placed over the ear can soothe away the discomfort.
  • Avoid flights when your child has an ear condition since this can cause more pain.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options 2017.

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