Ear Home > Ear Infection Info
Pediatricians typically spend about a third of their time diagnosing and managing ear infections. The most common type of ear infection, known as otitis media (inflammation of the inner ear), occurs at least once in most children before the age of three -- so if you are a parent, it's smart to learn as much as you can about this condition.
What causes otitis media? In most cases, it is caused by bacteria or viruses that get inside the ear. These bacteria or viruses can initially cause sore throats, colds, or other respiratory or breathing problems and then spread to the middle ear.
Symptoms in children often include:
- Unusual irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- Tugging or pulling at one or both ears
- Fluid draining from the ear.
Getting rid of an ear infection can be tricky. Antibiotics may or may not be recommended, depending on the specific symptoms that are present. If your healthcare provider recommends holding off on antibiotics, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) can be used to treat any pain or fever caused by the ear infection.
(For more information, including what to do if your child has recurring ear infections, click Ear Infection.)