My Child’s Struggle with Chronic Ear Infections

toddler crying
Image via Mindi Stavish

Each and every day I am thankful that all three of my sons are healthy and happy.  Sure they have had the typical childhood illnesses, but nothing catastrophic.  My first born, Xander, has been through his share of ear infections though.  

Xander had his first ear infection when he was about eight months old, followed by countless episodes after.  They started during “cold season” and lasted for the next several months.  According to WebMD, when a child has a cold, 2 out of 3 times they will also develop an ear infection. This is due to the fact that their immune systems are still developing, as well as the anatomy of their ear structures.

One of the worst feelings in the world as a parent, is not being able to take the ouch away when your child is sick.  

While Xander was battling chronic ear infections, his language was a bit behind and he had no interest in eating solid foods. In fact, he would gag every time he attempted to eat solid foods, paticularly foods with a lot of texture. He also was on the low end of the growth curve. Needless to say, I was one stressed out mama every time he was diagnosed with another ear infection.

After Xander's fifth ear infection in the span of 8 weeks, we were all exhausted and frustrated. No one was sleeping and it was heartbreaking to see our child in pain. His nurse practitioner kept blowing us off when we brought up his chronic ear infections. We finally decided to switch doctors. At our first appointment with his new doctor, we were given a consult to see an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor). Between the time we made the appointment and the day of our actual appointment, Xander suffered from another ear infection. This reaffirmed our decision to seek out advice from a specialist.

About ten minutes into our appointment with the ENT, we were counseled on our options for treatment for ear infections, including pressure equalizing (PE) tubes. PE tube placement requires a very quick outpatient surgery under general anesthesia.  As a speech-language pathologist, I was knowledgeable about PE tubes and felt comfortable with the decision to elect for Xander to have the surgery. We were all ready for him to start feeling well and hopefully begin to transition to solid foods.

Even though the surgery is minor, I was a nervous wreck the morning of the procedure. I still recall the lump I felt in my throat as the doctors and nurses wheeled my baby away to the operating room. Thankfully the surgery was uncomplicated and fast. My husband and I were reunited with Xander about thirty minutes after the procedure started. As we left the hospital, I hoped we were over the worst of the illness.

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Shortly after the procedure, Xander began to show more interest in solid foods. His vocabulary also started growing in leaps and bounds. It was so exciting to see him develop new skills and remain healthy!  The decision to get PE tubes placed was the right one for us.  He has only had one ear infection since and his language has developed right on target.  

Does your child battle with ear infections?  What treatments have worked for you?

What do you think?

My Child’s Struggle with Chronic Ear Infections

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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