Middle ear infections occur frequently in early childhood. They are commonly associated with colds (viral upper respiratory infections). The ear infection is caused when bacteria from the nose or throat go up the small tube (eustachian tube) that connects the throat to the middle ear. This infection causes inflammation of the eardrum and a collection of pus in the middle ear behind the eardrum.

Children with ear infections usually have signs of a cold (runny nose and cough), fussiness (earache, pulling at the ear, crying) and often have a fever. Occasionally, the eardrum ruptures and pus drains out of the ear canal. Children often have a poor appetite and sometimes have vomiting or diarrhea with ear infections. There can also be temporary hearing loss during ear infections due to the pus behind the eardrum.

Ear infections are usually not serious if they are properly treated. Follow-up care is important to be sure that the ear infection and the pus behind the eardrum have cleared up.

The symptoms of a VIRAL COLD (runny or stuffy nose and cough) are not helped by antibiotics and will improve with time. Make sure that your child is drinking plenty of fluids and use SALINE NOSE DROPS and a bulb syringe to clear mucus from a baby's nose or SALINE NASAL SPRAY for an older child with nasal congestion.

Home Care Instructions

--Your child may or may not be prescribed an antibiotic since many ear infections will resolve without antibiotics. Take all medications as directed even though your child may feel better after the first few days.

--You may give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever or pain relief.

Call Doctor if:

--Your child's symptoms (problems) do not improve within 2 to 3 days.

--Your child has a persistent fever for more than three days.

--There is an inability to control pain using the medication as directed.

--Your child has ear drainage.