Ear pain

Ear infections most commonly occur when there is inflammation in the space between the eardrum and the inner ear. It often is associated with colds and sore throats. Symptoms include ear pain, fever, fussiness, tugging on the ears, difficulty hearing, and fluid draining from the ear. They are very common, especially in the first two years of life.

Ear infections can only be diagnosed by a provider who examines the child’s eardrums. If an ear shows signs of an infection, an antibiotic medication may help treat it. Pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help relieve some symptoms. Usually the symptoms improve after a few days.

Common questions
about

ear pain

What are the common symptoms of ear infections in children?

Common symptoms of ear infections in children include ear pain (especially when lying down), tugging or pulling at an ear, trouble sleeping, increased fussiness, trouble hearing or responding to sounds, loss of balance, fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher, drainage of fluid from the ear, headache, and loss of appetite.

What causes ear infections in children?

Ear infections are typically caused by bacteria or viruses and often result from another illness such as a cold, flu, or allergy. These conditions can cause congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat, and eustachian tubes, leading to fluid build-up in the middle ear that can become infected.

How are ear infections treated in children?

Treatment for ear infections may vary depending on the cause. Many ear infections clear up on their own, and treatment often begins with managing pain and monitoring the problem. Antibiotics may be used for bacterial infections. Pain relief can be provided through medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

When should I take my child to see a doctor for an ear infection?

You should see a doctor if your child's symptoms last for more than a day, if symptoms are present in a child less than 6 months of age, if ear pain is severe, if your child is sleepless or irritable after a cold, or if there is a discharge of fluid, pus, or bloody fluid from the ear.

Can ear infections in children lead to complications?

Most ear infections don't cause long-term complications, but repeated infections can lead to hearing problems and other serious issues. Complications can include impaired hearing, speech or developmental delays, spread of infection to nearby tissues, and tearing of the eardrum. Prompt evaluation and treatment can reduce the risk of these complications.

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