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Ear Infection Season

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

With it being winter and cough and cold season it is also ear infection season. It is most common to see ear infections in young children from about four months to 24 months old. Ear infections, also known as “otitis media” typically occur after a child has had cold symptoms with runny and congested nose and cough. Most ear infections occur after the child has been sick for several days as fluid from their cold accumulates in the eustachian tube and then becomes infected.

There is not one sign or symptom that lets a parent know that their child’s ears are infected. People talk about children pulling on their ears, or not sleeping at night, or not wanting to take their bottle, or fever as symptoms of an ear infection. The only real way to diagnose an ear infection is by using and otoscope and having the pediatrician examine your child’s ears. Examination is the gold standard, you have to look.

When young children are found to have an ear infection they will begin taking an antibiotic. Unfortunately, some ear infections may be due to viruses, like RSV and will not respond to antibiotics but the doctor cannot tell that when looking in the ear. An infection of the ear looks the same through the otoscope whether it is viral or bacterial. When your child has recurrent ear infections they will probably be given different antibiotics each time in hopes of preventing resistance and also provide a different spectrum of coverage.

At this time of year some children may become candidates for tube placement, because of their frequent ear infections.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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