Illnesses Common in Babies


This article is by Islington's Angel Wellbeing Clinic's osteopath and looks at illnesse common in babies:


  • colic

  • ear infections

  • glue ear



Colic is considered the diagnosis if the baby cries for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week, for more than three weeks.

Colic is common and most parents will experience their baby having it at some time or the other. It can occur from about four weeks and recur up to a year. Most parents will become aware of the different cries that their baby has and learn to respond to that cry in the appropriate manner and get the desired reassurance from the baby following their action. The problem with colic is that no matter what you do it doesn’t seem to ease the baby’s distress and can drive the parent to despair.

To make matters worse no one seems to be able to say exactly what colic is and what causes it so there is not a specific know treatment and consequently all sorts of myths and ‘wives tails’ have evolved.

Ear infection

Typically ear infections come on three to four days after a cold or sore throat.
A baby with earache tends to cry and tug at the ear. The ear may appear red, and there may be yellowish fluid leaking out if the eardrum has burst.

Children are more vulnerable to ear infections because their 'eustachian tubes' (the tubes connecting the ear and the throat, which 'pop' when you go up in an aeroplane) are smaller and lay flatter than in adults. This means that the infection can spread more easily from the throat to the middle ear and makes it more difficult for fluid to drain away. The tube grows and develops so that, by five or six years, ear infections become less common.

The infected fluid may affect their hearing; so a check-up is advised if your child asks you to repeat things or stares at your mouth while you are talking. Often, however, children with ear infections cannot localise the pain and all you will see is a feverish, miserable child who cannot be comforted.

Glue ear

Glue ear means that the middle ear is filled with fluid that looks like glue. It can affect one or both ears. The fluid dampens the vibrations of the eardrum and ossicles made by the sound waves, which causes the 'volume' of the hearing to be 'turned down'. Glue ear usually occurs in young children, but it can develop at any age. Glue ear is sometimes called 'otitis media with effusion' (OME).

Dulled hearing is the main symptom. Hearing does not go completely and the hearing loss is often mild. However, the severity of hearing loss varies from person to person, is sometimes quite severe, and can vary from day to day in the same person.
The cause is thought to be a result of the Eustachian tube not working properly. The balance of fluid and air in the middle ear may become altered if the Eustachian tube is narrow, blocked, or does not open properly.

Some children develop glue ear after a cough, cold, or ear infection when extra mucus is made. The mucus may build up in the middle ear and not drain well down the Eustachian tube. However, in many cases glue ear does not begin with an ear infection.

Glue ear is a common childhood illness, more than 7 in 10 children have at least one episode of glue ear before they are four years old. In most cases it only lasts a short while. Boys are more commonly affected than girls.

Even after an episode of glue ear has cleared up, the problem may return for a while in the future. In particular, after a cold or ear infection.