Earache in Toddlers: Is It a Cold or an Ear Infection?

Earache in Toddlers: Is It a Cold or an Ear Infection?


Life can be lousy when you’re little one with an ear infection. More than three out of four children have had at least one ear infection before the age of three, and many more suffer from ear pain caused from the common cold, according to When toddlers suffer from earache, it can be difficult to determine the cause, as most young children are not able to express their symptoms clearly. It’s important to distinguish between a cold or ear infection to ensure that your toddler receives the proper medical care. Along with a diagnosis from your child’s pediatrician, use these tips to determine the cause of your child’s ear pain.

Common Cold

Toddlers with the common cold may show a wide range of symptoms, including sniffles, sneezing, a persistent cough, or a sore throat. Young children can suffer from as many as six to eight colds per year, according to the American Lung Association. The common cold is usually caused by rhinoviruses when children breathe in invisible cold droplets in the air. The first symptoms of the common cold are often a tickle in the throat, a stuffy or runny nose, and sneezing.

Some children may also have a cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, mild fever, and loss of appetite. Toddlers with earaches caused by the common cold may have difficulty sleeping and difficulty hearing as fluid builds up in the middle ear, preventing the eardrum from working efficiently. Some children experience brown, yellow, white, or bloody drainage from the ear, indicating that the eardrum may have ruptured.

Ear Infections

Ear infections, or otitis media, are the most frequently diagnosed illnesses among children in America, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. Earache is usually the first symptom that toddlers develop. If your toddler is not able to communicate this pain out loud, he or she may cry, tug at the ear, or point to the ear to tell you that it hurts. Ear infections can develop after a cold or sinus infection, and is usually accompanied by a fever.

Infections of the middle ear are usually caused by a virus or bacteria, causing fluid to build up in the area behind the eardrum. Ear infections are often times accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, an unpleasant odor emanating from the ear, trouble hearing quiet sounds, reduced appetite, and difficulty sleeping. In some instances, white or yellow fluid may drain from the ear. The ear drum helps with equilibrium; therefore, some kids may have problems with balance when they have an ear infection.

Get Treatment

Whether it’s caused by the common cold, an infection, or both, it’s critical to have your child’s earache diagnosed by a qualified pediatrician or physician. To diagnose your toddler’s ear pain, the pediatrician will examine the ear using an instrument referred to as an otoscope. Healthy eardrums are a pinkish gray color. If there is an infection in the middle ear, the eardrum may appear swollen, inflamed, and red in color. A pneumatic otoscope may also be used to check the pressure in the middle ear caused by fluid buildup.

There is no cure for the common cold and the virus must run its course. Your child’s pediatrician can provide pain medication, such as acetaminophen, to relief discomfort. Ear infections must be treated with a prescribed antibiotic to kill any bacteria that is causing the infection. Antibiotics are not; however, needed to treat an earache that is caused by a virus or a cold. If fluid stays in the ear for more than three months, or if your child suffers from chronic ear infections, your pediatrician may recommend myringotomy, or ear tubes.

Just listen

Just listen

Questioning yourself a mother and picking apart the job you’re doing with your kids is something I think every mother… EVERY mother… does.

There’s always something we feel we should be doing better, someone who’s doing it better than we are.

We stress out trying to make it perfect in the hopes that our kids will turn out fairly whole.

Sometimes… it’s good to hear from the little ones themselves.

Take a look at what these kids had to say.


A New Perspective For Moms – from Elevation Church


Consciously Parenting – And Still Getting it Wrong

Consciously Parenting – And Still Getting it Wrong

Mother and Son

Recently, I read a post called An Alternative View of Tantrums and Emotional Upsets that I thought ALL parents should read. I really wanted to share it wildly – this “Aha Moment” that I’d had and the article that sparked it – but I just couldn’t get the words out.

Why? Because in doing so I’d have to own up to some pretty crappy mistakes I’ve been making as a parent.

When I read that post, I did not expect to find anything useful for my own home. My kids are 4, 8 and 12 and our days of dealing with “terrible twos” tantrums are long behind us. What I overlooked in the title was the “Emotional Upsets” and what I couldn’t have known I’d find in the content was a powerful reminder that kids are people too.

What Rebecca Thompson teaches here is universal, and it applies to all relationships, because it comes down to a basic human need – to be understood.

Far too often we think about children’s reactions or overreactions in such a different way than grownup outbursts. Thompson attributes it, in part, to advice from the myriad of “parenting experts” who tell us to ignore, or punish. And the fact is that while these work to get us through that specific incident, it doesn’t really “solve” anything.

Have you ever seen a normally contented, happy toddler work himself into a complete meltdown that prompts the parent to say “Okay something’s really got to be bothering him, because he never acts like that!” What happens when he’s picked up, spoken to, connected with? Usually the child calms all the way down from the hysteria that was unleashed just prior.

Because the tantrum wasn’t really about the obvious trigger. It was about frustration at not being heard.

It’s no different for you, or me. Nothing can escalate a crappy customer service situation like someone dismissing you out of hand – and nothing can reclaim it like someone who appears to be genuinely listening.

What we all need is someone to say “Hey, I’ve got your back. You’ve got my support. I get what you’re saying/feeling.”

For me this was definitely an “Aha moment” – very much why hadn’t I ever thought about this before?! Except… I have.

Not consciously perhaps. But this is exactly what I did with my middle son with his tantrums.

I made sure that he knew he was heard – even when the words weren’t there.

And with my youngest – a tantrum from her would mean her screaming until her throat would start to bleed. Very frightening experience to have with an infant, so I learned early on to lean in and connect with her.

My oldest was just the happiest child. We would talk and reason, and I genuinely enjoyed parenting him through every up and down. So, I ask myself, how come it’s so different now.

He has more outbursts than he ever did before. Now at 12.

He definitely feels misunderstood, and unheard. And I understand where that comes from.

As the oldest he feels like he has to be responsible, and he has to look out for his siblings. And for him that also means keeping them in line and making sure everyone’s doing the “right” thing.

He’s got my sense of “justice” and feels that he has to speak up when anything is going wrong (even when really, it doesn’t concern him).

And of course, he’s at that awkward tween age where he’s starting to assert his independence and try to figure this “Life” thing out.

Here’s what I want to say to him: “I get you. Really I do. We are more alike than you can realize right now. But I don’t agree with you.”

And I’m not sure how to say that without a wall.

When he’s acting up and being bossy, or defying me to insist his way is best, I withdraw and my position is firm and unwavering. I do give opportunity to be heard, but it isn’t gentle nurturing hearing. It’s more like dispassionate, justice is blind hearing.

That wall makes me neutral, keeps me at a distance so I don’t react emotionally.

Making an emotional connection, on the other hand, is about breaking down walls.

So as valuable as this post has been to me, it is just the tip of the iceberg for me. How do I lean in and emotionally connect, and distance myself enough to be disciplinarian?



Thank You

Having kids has changed me.

I’m proud of being a mom, although I don’t think there’s one day that goes by that I think I haven’t done it wrong and that I don’t pray for another day to try to do it better.

To nag less, to laugh more, to listen more closely, to make more time…

Funny how we focus on the weaknesses, and not the positives.
I must remember that there are so many, many positives.

They give me purpose and a reason for being. We live and breathe family first. I am simply a better person because of them.

Today I will thank my family for the best they bring out in me…

… and look to the best I bring out in them.

Inspired by this post on TODAY Moms.

It’s good to be home…

It’s good to be home…

My son recently had a heart defect repaired through the kindness and generosity of pediatric cardiologist, Dr M. Ebeid.

Wendy Fitzwilliam can be proud to have her name associated with the Pediatrics Dept at EWMSC. Mostly.

At a time when nurses and doctors in the public healthcare system are warring with the Gov’t, the nurses and doctors dealing with the kids in the system at Mt Hope are kind, calm and professional in carrying out their duties. The rank and file workers – luck of the draw on that one.

Like the escort who showed up at 7am and “coming back in 10 minutes” because he need his “corfee dis early morning”, and NEVER returned for the 5 anxious children who had been told to get ready for 6am, and most of whom were ready WAY before that despite fitful sleep the night before… That is how pressure does build up…

Especially following the preceding 24 hours we shared.

When certain parents (Lord Jesus please bless them) decide to bring “d village” to visit, in a space where 2 parents could barely fit, and where we had previously been expressly forbidden from bringing guests.

When said parents kept telling their toddler what I can only describe as foolishness (albeit well-intended foolishness) so she learned to trust not a word they told her and instead resorted to screaming at the top of her lungs (I now know exactly what that term means) despite being given a healthy dose of sedatives to calm her down. She screamed through any effect the sedatives were supposed to have, even while other children tried to rest and recover in beds literally 2 feet away.

Lord Jesus I know it could only have been you that prevented my thoughts from becoming words when, at midnight, said parents peeped through the curtains separating us to see if I was sleeping, and looking for company and conversation despite me clearly trying to help my boy pee in a bedpan. At midnight.

And Father it could only have been you that prevented riot from the 3 parents of sleeping children who were forced into wakefulness by these same parents who succeeded in drawing their OTHER neighbour into conversation, much the same way they tried to draw me in. These children of yours proceeded for hours to discuss whey dey from, who dey know, who have how much money, and what a light to the world their little screaming bundle of joy is.

I am grateful for the efforts of the nurse who felt prompted to draw the curtains in a bid to “break up this reunion”. It didn’t work though. Without missing a beat, we then had to hear about what parts of their bodies “sleep away” and how their back and neck hurtin because the chairs too uncomfortable, and impossible to sleep in. Which we could all agree with, but which the rest of us were trying to work with anyway.

I am grateful too for nurses Marcia, Tracy, Niraj and Ayanna. There were others, but these in particular brought calm and even laughter to scared kids and made all the difference in the world. I will never forget them.

I will never forget the doctors, the anesthetists and the technicians who worked with my boy to repair the defect in his heart. I know at least 1 anesthetist has learned a little bit about Asperger’s and that there’s a hard way and an easy way (in that order). :-) I know that hospital policy had nothing to do with how many times he checked in on Matt to see how he was doing.

I NEVER would have guessed while in Mrs Olton’s class that her son would one day be involved in operating on my son…

I will never be able to express my gratitude properly to the doctor who comes from the US to give of his time (and more) to make these operations happen for a few kids year after year.

To Ika – I hope your little boy never needs this surgery. But on the off chance that he does… I know you’ll be in good hands.

To the parents who have to return because their operations were diagnostic or needed other special equipment… I wish you luck (and better rest this time around) and your kids speedy recoveries.

To those who have never visited the JBF ward where the pediatric cancer patients are warded… you should know that the Just Because Foundation does very important work in making the lives of the kids and their parents just a little easier. If you want to be part of a solution, and don’t know what to do, do this. Check the group – donate of your time, your money, your love.

I never knew there were so many children left alone on the wards at Mt Hope. Infants in cribs, toddlers who are too sick to play except to climb into a lone wheelchair and maneuvre themselves around a playroom, older ones dragging their little IV stands around. No mothers to hug and soothe and watch over them. Only nurses to love and care for them, when their schedules allow them to squeeze in some mothering time.

Heartbreaking to watch mothers who cannot, for whatever reason, stay with their kids and can only come to visit. To watch them leave… and to watch little hearts break when they do… Amazing to see the love that pours out from the nurses when they do.

Amazing too to see mothers trying to make a home for themselves in a place like this – grating carrots and beets to make fresh juices for their kids “to get the blood counts up!” To hear bedtime stories and lullabies across the way. To listen to mothers who care, homeschooling right there in the hospital…

I think that mothering instinct is strong in some. Others perhaps are motivated in turn by their efforts. But I know that it must be a lot easier to let the mothering happen in a space like this – with a playroom for the kids, a tiny but clean and comfortable dining space (& kitchenette) for families, and a decent bathroom/shower for the parents.

And nurses and doctors who seem truly interested in the patients in their care.

Thanks again to everyone who sent love and prayers and support. My phone battery was completely losing its charge within 2-3 hrs and I kept having to sneak a charge where I could (I’m amazed nobody boof mih). It was clearly allergic to the hospital because Tuesday night’s charge is still holding. :-)

Matt is catching up on rest and being back in his surroundings and we’re taking it one day at a time.

Seriously. Please check out the Just Because Foundation and see how you can help, even in some small way.

Holiday Surprises coming soon!

Stay tuned for updates!