WHAT IS A MIDDLE EAR INFECTION?
Middle ear infection is an infection in the small space just inside the eardrum that is common in young children. It is also called otitis media and usually causes an earache. The medical term for this type of ear infection is called, “Acute Otitis Media”.
(There is a different type of ear infection called an “Outer Ear Infection” (a.k.a. “Swimmer’s Ear”) that is totally different). Click HERE for more information on Outer Ear Infections.
Most children will have at least one middle ear infection by 3 years of age.
Middle ear infections are more common in winter and early spring and often come with cold symptoms and even a fever.
WILL ANTIBIOTICS HELP RIGHT NOW?
Middle ear infections are usually caused by a virus, but sometimes can be caused by a bacteria. Most children (80%) recover from the pain on their own within 1-2 days without antibiotics!
Your child’s own immune system will be able to get rid of the infection in a few days in most cases.
Research shows that antibiotics do NOT relieve earache in the first 24 hours. In fact, only 1 in 20 children treated with antibiotics are actually helped by taking antibiotics. (i.e. for 95% of children antibiotics do not help!). (HOWEVER, 1 in 8 children who take antibiotics experience side effects or reactions from them!)
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL HARMS OF ANTIBIOTICS?
- diarrhea and vomitting
- more severe allergic reactions
- resistance to antibiotics in future infections when they might really be needed.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE YOUR CHILD FEEL BETTER?
WHEN SHOULD YOUR CHILD SEE A DOCTOR?
- If your child is not starting to get better in 2-3 days.
- Fever that will not go down even with Tylenol and Advil.
- Swelling or redness behind the ear.
- If you are worried your child is in any way seriously ill.
- If your child gets frequent ear infections each year and/or you are worried about your child’s speech and language development.