Does My Baby Have an Ear Infection?

Take this quick quiz to find out just how much you know about ear infections.

Q. Are all children at risk for ear infections?

A. Ear infections are common in kids, especially babies between ages 6 and 18 months. One reason may be simple anatomy. The tube that drains fluid from inside each ear is much shorter in children than in adults.

In children, ear infections often follow a cold virus. One study in Pediatrics found that 30 percent of upper respiratory infections in kids younger than age 3 led to an ear infection. Other factors, such as being around smokers, can raise the risk for ear infection.

Q. How do I know if my baby has an ear infection?

A. Young ones may cry and tug at their ears. They’ll seem irritable and won’t feel like eating or sleeping. They also may have a fever.

Q. Does my little one need antibiotics?

A. It depends on your child’s age. Most ear infections in older babies and kids go away after a week or two without antibiotics. Taking these medicines when they aren’t needed can make it harder for your child to fight off future infections.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends antibiotics for babies younger than 6 months with ear infections. If your child is between 6 and 24 months and the ear infection isn’t serious, antibiotics may offer little benefit. After age 2, an antibiotic is recommended only for a severe ear infection.

What you can do instead of getting an antibiotic: Try giving your child acetaminophen for pain and fever. A warm heating pad over the sore ear can offer some comfort, too.

Online Medical Reviewer: Desrosiers, Florence MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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