What is an ear infection?
— An ear infection is a condition that can cause pain in the ear, fever, and trouble hearing. Ear infections are common in children.
Ear infections often occur in children after they get a cold. Fluid can build up in the middle part of the ear behind the eardrum. This fluid can become infected and press on the eardrum, causing it to bulge. This causes symptoms.
In some children, some fluid can stay in the ear for weeks to months after the pain and infection have gone away. This fluid can cause hearing loss that is usually mild and temporary. If the hearing loss lasts a long time, it can sometimes lead to problems with language and speech, especially in children who are at risk for problems with language or learning.
What are the symptoms of an ear infection?
— In infants and young children, the symptoms include:
●Pulling on the ear
●Being more fussy or less active than usual
●Having no appetite and not eating as much
●Vomiting or diarrhea
In older children, symptoms often include ear pain or temporary hearing loss.
How do I know if my child has an ear infection?
— If you think your child has an ear infection, see a doctor or nurse. The doctor or nurse should be able to tell if your child has an ear infection. He or she will ask about symptoms, do an exam, and look in your child's ears.
How are ear infections treated?
— Doctors can treat ear infections with antibiotics. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics to treat ear infections in infants younger than 2 years old. For children older than 2, doctors sometimes hold off on antibiotics.
Your child's doctor might suggest watching your child's symptoms for 1 or 2 days before trying antibiotics if:
●Your child is healthy in general
●The pain and fever are not severe
When should I follow up with the doctor?
— You should call the doctor:
●After 1 to 2 days, if you are watching your child's symptoms. If the pain and fever have not gotten better, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics.
●After 2 days, if your child is taking antibiotics and his or her symptoms have not improved or are worse.
You should also see the doctor or nurse a few months after an ear infection if your child is younger than 2 or has language or learning problems. Your doctor or nurse will do an ear exam to make sure the fluid is gone. Your child might also need follow-up testing to check his or her hearing.