Richmond Practice - Middle ear infections: Otitis Media in children

Middle ear infections: Otitis Media in children
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Does your child suffer from ear infections each year?

Middle ear infections are very common in children. Your child will start with a runny nose or cough, and then develop earache, fever, irritability and/or a discharge of fluid from the ear. Sometimes ear infections only get diagnosed when the doctor is examining the ears for other reasons.

Parents should give Ibuprophen / Paracetamol for pain or fever. Sometimes a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel placed against the ear also helps to relieve pain. Your child should not go swimming until the ear infection has responded to treatment. Do not try to clean out the ears with cotton buds, even if there is discharge from the ear. What you cannot wipe away with a clean, damp cloth should be left alone.

Consult your doctor if:
  • your child complains of an earache or if an infant pulls at their ears
  • your child has a fever of over 37.8 °C
  • you notice any swelling behind the ear
  • the symptoms are not improved within 72 hours after starting treatment, as a more serious infection may be developing.

One of the main problems with ear infections is that fluid builds up behind the eardrum, and sometimes this fluid persists even after the infection has responded to treatment. Fluid in the ears affects hearing, and if hearing loss persists for long periods it can affect both your child’s speech development and their behaviour.

Ear infections may have to be treated with antibiotics. We find decongestant medications are of only limited help.

Either of our doctors or our paediatrician can assist with treating ear infections in children. If your child suffers from frequent, recurring ear infection the doctor will investigate for a potential underlying cause.