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An ear infection is one of the most common infections that children have to deal with. In fact, most children will experience at least one ear infection by the time they are five years old. Of course, it’s important to understand the telltale signs of an ear infection, as well as know how to treat the infection and when you should turn to a pediatrician for care.
An ear infection isn’t contagious and usually isn’t a cause for concern; however, you will want to monitor your child’s symptoms to make sure problems aren’t getting worse or don’t warrant seeing a doctor. In many instances, a child may develop an ear infection after they’ve had a cold.
Signs and Symptoms of an Ear Infection
So, how will you know if your child has an ear infection? Children who are old enough to talk will certainly be able to let you know that they are experiencing an earache or pain; however, a baby or toddler won’t be able to tell you that they are experiencing an earache. Therefore, signs that your baby might have an ear infection include:
- Increased fussiness
- A fever
- Pulling at the ears
- Crying or tantrums, particularly when lying down
- Having difficulty hearing noises or not responding to sounds
- Fluid draining from the ears
So, when should you wait out an infection and when should you call a pediatrician? You should give your child’s doctor a call if they have an ear infection and they are also experiencing:
- A rash
- Difficulty hearing
- Ear swelling
You should also turn to a doctor for care if your child:
- Has an ear infection and they are under 6 months old
- Is in significant pain or still experiences pain after two days of taking ibuprofen
- Also has other serious health problems
How is an ear infection treated?
In most cases an ear infection will go away on its own. If your child isn’t in significant pain and they don’t have a high fever your pediatrician may tell you to wait a couple of days to see if symptoms improve. If symptoms remain or get worse then you should bring them back to the doctor’s office.
While antibiotics are not normally prescribed to treat an ear infection they may be used if your child has a very high fever, is in significant pain or if their ear infection hasn’t improved within 48 hours. It’s important not to give your child any over-the-counter medications without first talking with your pediatrician.