Eyes, Ears, Mouth and Nose Infections for Babies

There are also infections of the eyes, ears, mouth and nose. These include otitis media, herpetic stomatitis, stye, oral candidiasis, conjunctivitis and external otitis.

We will talk about those mentioned infections below in detail.

Infections that Children may have

Otitis Media

Causes and Symptoms

infections

A baby’s ear canal lacks keratin and is much shorter and narrower than that of the adults. Therefore, it is easier to become infected. This is a common illness according to statistics.

At the age of 3 years old, 80% of children have already been infected with otitis media and the rate of infection is slowly increasing. The main cause of this is when infected with a common cold, mucus flows back towards the ear and lodges there instead of flowing out of the nose thus causing inflammation.

A baby’s ear canal lacks keratin and is much shorter and narrower than that of the adults. Therefore, it is easier to become infected. This is a common illness according to statistics.

At the age of 3 years old, 80% of children have already been infected with otitis media and the rate of infection is slowly increasing. The main cause of this is when infected with a common cold, mucus flows back towards the ear and lodges there instead of flowing out of the nose thus causing inflammation.

Otitis media will cause a fever over 39 degrees. The child will cry and cause a fuss and will not be able to sleep. They will be especially restless in the evenings. When drinking milk, children will vomit and will often try to rub the ears with their hands. It will in turn result in bursts of crying. If the eardrum becomes ruptured or the condition becomes chronic, the ear will leak fluid and may result in hearing impairment.

If a baby feeds very slowly when sucking from a milk bottle or frequently sucks on a pacifier, this will increase the pressure in the ear and may cause damage. This situation is most likely to give rise to otitis media.

Care Points

● Go to the hospital immediately for treatment.

● Treatment requires 15 days to 1 month, during this time you must follow the doctor’s instructions carefully until cured.

● If you choose to avoid medical treatment because the fever is reduced and the aches and pains have disappeared, there is a risk the condition will turn chronic thus causing damage to the hearing.

● Get plenty of rest. A cold compress can be applied behind the ear if suffering with fever and pain.

● When blowing the nose, make sure to blow through both nostrils, one side each time.

● Drinking milk whilst lying down may cause milk to flow backwards into the ear, so it is best to drink in a half-lying posture to prevent this.

● The vaccinations for influenza and otitis media can be done at the same time. This is because when infected with influenza, it is even easier to become infected with otitis media, so vaccinating against both is the safest option.

Herpetic Stomatitis

Causes and Symptoms

Airborne infections such as herpetic stomatitis caused by the herpes virus can be transferred by close contact with other children. The immunity passed down from mother to child starts to disappear from 6 months old, so from this time until 5 years old the child is easy to become infected. The highest risk age group is 1-2 years old. The incubation period is 4-6 days which, although very short, is very hard to endure for the younger child.

Stomatitis can be separated into several types: cold sore type, canker sore type or recurrent type etc. Children are most commonly infected with cold sore type stomatitis.

As the virus enters the body, it may cause a slight temperature, or a fever between 38-39 degrees. Some children will also experience febrile seizures which is one of the brain infections a child may have. The symptoms will begin after 2-3 days with the mucus membrane in the throat. Oral cavity also becomes inflamed and spots will appear on the tongue and sides of the mouth. The mouth will salivate much more freely making it difficult to eat. If the area of swelling is aggravated, the mucus membrane may bleed and have a bad odor. As time passes, the condition will gradually improve with a complete recovery 4-7 days later.

Care Points

● Because this is a viral infection, there is no need for special treatment, use painkillers, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory according to the symptoms, if infected for the second time antibiotics will be needed.

● Because this infection is passed from one person to another, avoid using shared cutlery, bowls, towels etc. during infection.

● The most important thing is to get plenty of rest. As the immune system becomes weak, it is very easy to become infected the second time, drink plenty of water and eat soft foods to prevent this.

● If there is poor oral hygiene, infection is even easier. Teeth must be cleaned regularly and maintain good oral hygiene.

● If there is pain in the oral cavity making it difficult to eat, the baby may appear dehydrated, so cold water must be given which will help to combat the fever. If the baby is able to drink water, then there is no need to worry.

Stye

Causes and Symptoms

Stye is an infection of the eyelashes with the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. If stye is present for a long time, the eyelid will swell and turn red. This will be painful and may bleed, after 4-5 days it will begin to suppurate.

Care Points

● When a stye first begins, do not irritate the eye; observe for 1-2 days.

● If the eye is rubbed when itchy, the condition is very easy to get worse, washing with salt water is also not recommended. If the medicine is taken from the beginning, the condition will quickly improve. Typically eye medicine, eye ointment and immunity boosters are used.

● If suppurated or after taking antibiotics and the eye is still swollen and painful, then surgery is required to remove the pus. If surgery was not opted for, it is possible that small permanent lumps will grow on the eyelid.

● After removing the pus and to prevent recurrence, antibiotics must be taken for a few days. Frequent stye problems could be due to abnormalities in other areas which should be taken into an investigation.

● Do not burst the boils by yourself. Always keep the area clean around the eye, do not rub or touch the eyes.

Oral Candidiasis

Causes and Symptoms

Arises from Candida albicans fungus in the oral cavity and appears as a white moss. Weaker children due to premature birth or children with weak immunity are easy to become infected.

Infection is higher amongst newborns with poor oral hygiene, dirty pacifier or dirty nipple of the bottle. There will appear a white layer on the mucus membrane on the inside of the two cheeks which resembles milk dregs. It will be painful when touched.

If the layer is tried to be removed, it will result in bleeding. In order to distinguish between this illness and milk dregs for newborn children, you must use a soft damp gauze to gently wipe over the surface. Anything that can be cleansed is the milk dregs, anything that cannot be wiped clean or bleeds is candidiasis.

If the bacteria in the oral cavity reach the intestines, it will cause diarrhea. This illness is very easy to be neglected and is very rare to discover at an early stage. There are some cases where it will clear by itself though before it worsens.

Care Points

● Anti-fungal cream or a steroid spray can be applied to the infected area.

● Use a damp gauze cloth to carefully clean the oral cavity whilst taking a shower. When candidiasis is severe, the tongue will be painful and will be difficult to drink water, therefore allow water to cool before drinking.

● Pay careful attention to hygiene in regards to the milk bottle, pacifier and mothers’ hands. For babies who do not smoothly gain weight, frequently gets sick or repeatedly become infected with candidiasis, go to see a specialist doctor for examination.

Conjunctivitis

Causes and Symptoms

The thin surface cover over the pupil inside the eyelid is called ‘conjunctiva’. When it is inflamed, it is called ‘conjunctivitis’. The causes of this include bacteria, infection and allergy. The conjunctivia will on one side bleed, have gum in the eyes, develop sores under the eyelid, will feel itchy and will have foreign matter.

There are many symptoms of conjunctivitis. The most common of which is the eye will be red and will bleed and the eyes will water. The eyelid will swell and will accumulate yellow eye gum. When severe, the eye will fill with pus rendering it unable to open. There are some cases with only one eye infected and some with both eyes infected.

As there are different types of bacteria involved with bacterial conjunctivitis, symptoms and treatment are also different. Therefore, it is important to take a culture sample for examination in order to ascertain the strain of bacteria.

Infection is more frequent during spring and summer months. Example, when you go swimming in a public pool or bathing in public baths. Not only will the eye bleed, but there will also be a cough developed, runny nose, fever, diarrhea and cold-type symptoms. Allergic-type, conjunctivitis comes from close contact with dust, dust mites, bacteria, pet hair, etc. or other types of allergy inducing materials. This will also give rise to watery eyes, itchiness, bleeding, swelling etc.

Care Points

● The first week of infection has the highest risk of further infection, so try your best to stay at home, do not use the same towel as others in order to avoid transferring the infection.

● The treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis depends on the strain of bacteria. The hands must be kept clean and do your best to avoid hand contact with the eyes.

● When suffering from infectious conjunctivitis, if in the first place a high fever is present, take an antipyretic and take plenty of rest in a quiet place. If there is no improvement the condition may turn chronic, so you must make every effort to treat it.

● Allergic conjunctivitis requires medical treatment, it is also very important to clear away anything that can aggravate the allergy. Using medication over long periods of time will develop side effects, so please ensure you have the approval of a specialist doctor before administering.

● If the child has an allergic constitution make frequent use of a vacuum and damp cloth to clean the home, try your best to avoid dust and dust mites.

● Dust mites like to live and breed in warm, damp places so it is best to adjust the room to a humidity of 40-50% and a temperature of around 20-22 degrees. Remember to frequently open the window for fresh air.

● The conjunctiva is easier to become irritated by outside air, and thus easier to get infected, so it is better to carefully take preventative measures rather than curing after becoming infected.

● After going outdoors, ensure the hands and feet are cleaned, especially during times of high eye-infection. If the eyes are uncomfortable, use Isotonic Sodium Chloride Solution to wash the eyes.

External Otitis

Causes and Symptoms

This is an inflammation of the helix and outer auditory canal causing inflammation of the outer ear called external otitis. The most significant cause is from the injury caused by cleaning the ear. It will then become infected with bacteria causing external otitis. The outer auditory canal resembles sweat glands in the skin, where bacteria can enter and can give rise to abscesses. Abscesses will grow in the S-shape tube connecting the ear hole to the eardrum giving rise to inflammation.The opening of the ear will change shape and the inner ear will become swollen.

Initially, it will only feel itchy which will gradually turn painful. The ear opening will become narrow, red and swollen. Pressing on the ear opening or pulling on the earlobe will be very painful. If you burst the abscess allowing the pus to flow out, the condition will gradually heal.

Care Points

● Maintain cleanliness of the outer ear, and at the same time use appropriate antibiotics. This is in order to clear away the pus and abscess or prevent more abscesses from appearing.

● Medicine can be taken to soothe the itchiness and pain. Children’s ear holes are narrow and making the child sit quietly whilst you clean the ear is very difficult, so please take care when cleaning the ear. Use a cotton bud to clean the outer area of the ear. However, do not use a cotton bud to clean the ear immediately after taking a bath so as to avoid infections.

Stephanie
 

Editor in Babiology, mother of two, highly passionate about sharing the pregnancy care and post delivery care learning with the readers.

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