Ear Infections in Children: What You Need to Know

Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor.

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday, and most of these are not serious.

An ear infection occurs when there is infection and inflammation in the middle ear, which is behind the ear drum. The medical term for middle ear infections is “otitis media.”

Chronic ear infection is an ear infection that does not heal. A recurring ear infection can act like a chronic ear infection.

Middle ear infections are typically treated with an oral antibiotic, but be aware of any medication allergies. Children who fail first-line treatment for middle ear infections and have recurrent ear infections need to be treated differently.

It is important to determine the cause of ear infections. Children with an immunodeficiency, chronic or atopic condition such as eczema or asthma may be more susceptible for chronic ear infections.

Chronic ear infections can do more than cause pain — they can also lead to hearing loss. It’s important to treat recurring ear infections. If your child continues to get ear infections and antibiotics aren’t helping, vent tube placement may be recommended by your doctor.

Prevention is key! There are a number of things you can do to help reduce your child’s risk of developing an ear infection, including:

  • Limit exposure to others who are sick;
  • Eat a well-balanced diet;
  • Stay hydrated;
  • Wash hands regularly; and
  • Cover cough.

Learning more about treatment and prevention can help you manage recurring infections for your child. Speak to your child’s pediatrician or ear, nose and throat healthcare provider for more information.

About the author.

Heather Meeusen is a nurse practitioner with HFM Ear, Nose & Throat. To schedule an appointment with Heather, call (920) 320-4780.