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An ear infection (otitis media) affects your child's middle ear (behind the eardrum). It can be caused by a bacteria or virus and often follows a viral infection (such as a cold). Ear infections are not contagious.
Did you know?
- Feeding your infant while
lying flat, propping the
bottle, using a pacifier and
giving your baby a bottle
to suck on while in the crib
all increase the chance of
an ear infection.
- Daycare and exposure to
secondhand smoke can
also increase the chance.
Ear infections are common in young children and usually affect children younger than 3 years old.
Your child can get ear infections more than once. If the infection is caused by a bacteria, antibiotics may help.
Symptoms of an ear infection
If your child has an ear infection, she may:
- have a fever (ear infections don't always cause a fever)
- cry often or be irritable
- tug at the ear
- be unable to hear well
- have drainage from the ear
How to treat an ear infection
- Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics or
eardrops. Be sure to use all of the prescription, even if
your child feels better after a few doses.
- Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
for fever or mild discomfort. Follow your health care
provider’s or the package directions. Do not give
ibuprofen to a child younger than 6 months old.
- Holding a warm washcloth over her ear may help
relieve the pain.
When to call your health care provider
Call your health care provider for an appointment if your child:
- is uncomfortable or can’t sleep
- has blood or drainage coming from the ear
- has been taking antibiotics for 72 hours (three days) and
isn’t getting better