A special tube called the Eustachian tube connects the middle ear and the back of the throat. The tube is narrow in young children so it can become blocked, especially with a cold. This blockage can lead to an infection. Some ear infections are due to viruses and some are due to bacteria. Antibiotics might be prescribed for an ear infection, but 70-80% of children who have an ear infection will get better without an antibiotic.
- Wash your hands frequently and teach your child about handwashing since most ear infections occur after a cold.
- Avoid exposing your child to second hand smoke.
- Limit exposure to irritating substances.
- Do not give your child a bottle to drink while lying down.
- Ear pain
- Place a warm cloth over the outside of the ear.
- Antihistamines and decongestants do not help an ear infection.
- Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics after examination of your child’s ears.
- If your child has had many ear infections within a short period, your doctor may recommend surgery to put tubes in the ears to help the ears to drain.
- Because of the risk of antibiotic resistance, it is no longer recommended to give antibiotics for prolonged periods to prevent ear infections.
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When to seek medical attention:
Children: See your doctor if your child. . .
- Is less than 6 months of age
- Is between 6 and 24 months of age and is not getting better after 24 hours
- Is over 2 years of age and is not getting better after 3 days
- Has a loss of balance
- Has swelling and redness behind the ear
When to Worry about your child
Go to the emergency department if your child has any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing not caused by a stuffy nose
- Blue lips
- Limp or unable to move
- Hard to wake up, unusually quiet or unresponsive
- Stiff neck
- Seems confused