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Kids' Ear Infections

Chronic middle ear infection is a very common medical condition affecting young children.

Middle ear infection is one of the most common childhood illnesses that causes them to visit a physician, says Dr. Leonard Rybak, professor of otolaryngology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  Nearly two-thirds of children in the U.S. will have one episode of middle ear infection by age 1.  And three out of four children will have this infection by age 3.  Dr. Rybak explains some symptoms of a child’s ear infection.

“... pain and decreased hearing, and the parent can also check the child for a fever.  And if it is a younger child, they may just be pulling on the ear.  They may be fussy and irritable. They may have reduced appetite.  They may wake up at night with pain ...”

Dr. Rybak adds that if the eardrum ruptures, drainage will be coming out of the ear.  Ear infections often start as a cold or upper respiratory infection caused by a virus.  He recommends some treatments.

“Most commonly, physicians will use antibiotics for a short term to get rid of the acute ear infection – something that came on all of a sudden.  Yes, if a child has repeated ear infections, say three or four within a three month period, that would be a consideration for putting tubes in, or if there was a persistent development of fluid behind the ear drum leading to repeated infections that persist for at least three months ...”

A child who has symptoms of ear infection should be seen by a primary care physician or pediatrician for diagnosis and possible treatment before the problem becomes serious. 

Ruth Slottag