Sick Babies - Ear Infection

Tips Jr. got his first real illness this weekend - an ear infection! Yuck! I didn't sleep much at all Saturday night because I would only sleep when he did and he usually only lasted for 20, maybe 30 minutes max. I did finally get an epiphany early Sunday morning (like 6:30am) to put him in his room with the humidifier going, shut the door and then shut the door to my room so that I could sleep - and I did. I got about 5 hours of sleep.

You might wonder why we didn't take Tips Jr. to the doctor - but we did, on Saturday. He had a low-grade fever since Friday afternoon and then Saturday during the day he was in his swing just relaxing when all of a sudden he started to scream (and he's a pretty mellow baby) and it took us quite a while to console him. I gave him some more infant Tylenol (only 1/2 dose, so .4 mil) and that seemed to help him and he fell asleep again.

Well then I was talking to my mom about it, and she said that this was the age that we started to get ear infections and she encouraged me to take him into the doctor. I called our pediatrician's office an hour before they closed on Saturday and they didn't have any more appointments. I asked about Sunday (because their website says that they have urgent care hours on Sunday) and the dumb receptionist told me, "I don't think any of the doctors come in on Sundays." UUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

I then got online and looked up the closest urgent care for our glorified PPO (it's really an HMO, who do they think they are kidding?) and we took him in there. They did a work up on him and couldn't find anything wrong with him, so then they told us that if he wasn't feeling better by Monday to take him into his pediatrician. We should have just waited until Monday anyway - going to the urgent care was a waste of time and money (we still had to pay $40 for our co-pay).

Here's why we should have waited to see one of the pediatricians in our office: most regular doctors who don't treat a lot of children can't read an otoscope (that's the instrument they use to look in the ears), but pediatricians can because they are used to it. This little bit of information we just learned Tuesday night as we were talking to Tip's older brother, a recent medical school graduate who is completing his residency. He also informed us that sometimes the infection can sink in the ear, so that it wouldn't be visible when the doctor looked at it anyway.

So that is my first tip with sick babies - unless it is a dire emergency, wait until you can see a pediatrician if it's an ear infection, it is worth your time and your money. A baby really can suffer through the weekend with infant Tylenol every 4-6 hours and Children's Motrin/Advil on the off hours.

Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, 5th Edition: Birth to Age 5 (Shelov, Caring for your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5)My second tip I learned this weekend was that the ear thermometers aren't as accurate for babies under 6 months (I learned this by reading in The Complete and Authoritative Guide Caring For Your Baby and Child Birth to Age 5 by the American Academy of Pediatrics). Guess what type of thermometer the urgent care center used? That's right an ear thermometer. I guess the armpit or the rectal readings are more accurate up to 6 months.

My third tip I have is for helping to relieve baby's uncomfortable symptoms since they pulled all of the infant cold medicine from the market since they said it doesn't really help (but what do they really know, how many kids under the age of 2 can tell you if the medicine is helping them feel better or not?). Tips Jr has lost his appetite this weekend and won't nurse as much (it would be kind of hard to get the sucking action going if you were congested or plugged up). He will take a bottle, but I still felt he wasn't getting enough liquid. Monday night I just felt so bad for him and since I had started to get a sore throat, I thought he might have one too from all the mucous going down his throat. So here's what I did: I made chamomile tea, the good kind too - Lipton. There really is a difference between the generic chamomile teas and the name brand chamomile teas. I will always go for the name brand on that one, it tastes so much better. I had to cool it down until it was the right temperature for him (but still warm), and he eagerly drank those 4 ounces down! I went for the chamomile because one) it is an herbal tea and I truly do believe that herbs were created for the purpose of helping the ailments we sometimes experience as mortals; and two) whenever I read books of 'the old days' and a little girl wanted to have a tea party, her mom always gave her chamomile tea to use, so that's the reasoning I used to tell myself it was 'okay' for Tips Jr to have some. But if you feel strongly about not drinking any tea whatsoever, then I think you could heat up just plain water - Tips says it does the same thing to alleviate sore throats. Something to do with the hot liquid opening pores in the throat to reduce swelling? I don't really remember what he said - that was a while ago when we had that conversation.

My fourth tip comes from our visit to the Pediatrician Tuesday afternoon. Since Tips was resisting my decision to take Tips Jr to the doctor (he thought the doctor wouldn't find anything wrong with him and we'd be out yet another co-pay), I asked about the next time he gets sick, when should we bring him in -because I knew that a low-grade fever for one or two days wasn't that big of a deal. She said that for this age (under 6 months) anytime the fever lasts three or more days to bring the baby in and if possible, get them in on the third day. And of course if the fever gets too high then you would take them in ASAP. What is too high of a temperature? I cite from the AAP book once again, chapter 23 Fever, page 634. Rectal temperature for 3 years and under would be over 100.4 F (38 C) and for 3+ if would be 99.6 F (37.5 C). Oral temperature for 3 and under would be anything over 99.2 F (37.3 C) and 98.6 F (27 C).

So those are my tips for this topic for any new moms out there - since more experienced moms have probably already figured these things out. Also, remember that I am in no way a medical health care professional, so as always, consult your doctor! These are just my ideas that worked for us!


Krystal said…
wow, what a busy weekend you had!!
Exergen said…
Thanks for sharing your experience with this. It sounds like knowing when to go to the doctor can really help save some money.

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