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Tugging at the Ears, Fever, or Fussy?

Signs Your Child May Have an Ear Infection
By DuPage Medical Group Otolaryngology

An ear infection occurs when there is inflammation in the middle ear, usually due to bacteria that is caused by fluid buildup behind the eardrum. This bacteria and fluid buildup often occurs with other illnesses like a sore throat, cold, or upper respiratory infection. There are three types of ear infections:

Ear Infections

Acute Otitis Media (AOM)

This is the most common type of ear infection. There is swelling in the middle ear and fluid behind the eardrum. This causes ear pain and may be accompanied by a fever.

Otitis Media with Effusion (OME)

This ear infection often happens after an acute ear infection has cleared, but the fluid remains trapped behind the eardrum. This infection can be difficult to detect because there may not be any symptoms.

Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion (COME)

This ear infection occurs when fluid remains trapped behind the eardrum for an extended period of time, or happens repeatedly, even without an infection. Chronic ear infections can impact your child’s hearing.


Ear Infections

Children often develop an ear infection before they are able to talk, which can make it difficult for parents to detect. Common signs your child may be suffering from an ear infection include:

  • Tugging or pulling at one or both ears
  • Coordination or balance issues
  • Changes with hearing or trouble hearing quiet sounds
  • Fever
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased fussiness or crying

Children are more prone to ear infections because their Eustachian tube, a small passageway between the throat and middle ear, is smaller, making it more difficult for fluid to drain.  Additionally, a child’s immune system is not fully developed, making fighting off infections more difficult. There are some ways you can reduce your child’s risk of developing an ear infection:

  • Don’t let your child sleep with a bottle.
  • We strongly recommend your child receives an annual flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine, especially if they are in daycare.
  • Wash your hands and keep your child’s hands clean to help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Avoid exposing your child to cigarette smoke. Studies have shown that small children around smoke are more prone to ear infections.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to other children who may be sick, as much as possible.

If you suspect your child has an ear infection, your pediatrician will perform a physical exam to determine if there is an infection, and prescribe an antibiotic if needed. In some cases, in spite of your best efforts, your child may still develop an ear infection. If your child struggles with recurring infections, your pediatrician can refer you to an Otolaryngologist, an ear, nose and throat specialist, to discuss additional treatment options. 

To schedule an appointment with a DuPage Medical Group Pediatrician or Otolaryngologist, Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, visit https://www.dupagemedicalgroup.com/online-schedule/.

Learn more about:
Otolaryngology (ENT)
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