SIU School of Medicine

Jump directly to a section:

Office of Public Affairs



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.

SOUND BITE:    “Usually it starts out as a cold or upper respiratory infection caused by a virus.  And that allows bacteria from the back of the nose to go up into the eustachian tube and get access to the space behind the eardrum and cause the infection.”

Dr. Rybak says children with ear infections may have fever and their ears may drain or they may awaken in the night crying.  If a child is too young to talk, they may pull on their ears.

SOUND BITE:    “Usually the first treatment is an antibiotic if it looks like a bacterial infection – if the eardrum looks red and bulgy.  Then an antibiotic prescription will be provided. If children have recurrent ear infections, they may require the placement of tubes in the ear.”

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.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.