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Does Your Child Have Ear Pain?

If so, it might be an ear infection (also known as acute otitis media)

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What is

Acute Otitis Media

Acute Otitis Media (AOM) is an ear infection caused by viruses or bacteria. It usually resolves quickly with or without antibiotics.

The infection occurs in the middle ear when the fluids don't drain properly, leading to growth of bacteria and/or viruses.

Many parents feel nervous or uneasy when their child has ear pain. However, it is important to remain calm.

Looking for

Signs my child may have an ear infection

Your child does not need to have all of the signs to have an ear infection.

Your child may have an ear infection even if they don't have all of these signs.

Common Signs

  • Ear Pulling

  • Ear Pain

  • Crying/upset

  • Fever

Staying at home and monitoring

Recommended if your child has the following signs

  • Alert & Active

  • Pain Medication is Working

  • Able to Sleep & Eat

  • Temperature < 39°C (102°F)

  • Mild Ear Ache/Pain

  • Ill for < 48 Hours

Making an appointment with your health care provider

Recommended if your child has the following signs

  • Child is Upset or Can't Settle

  • Pain Medication isn't working

  • Unable to Sleep or Eat

  • Temperature > 39°C (102°F)

  • Severe Ear Ache/Pain

  • Ill for > 48 Hours

Visiting the emergency department

Recommended if your child has the following signs

  • Fluid Leaking From Ear

  • Febrile Seizure Occurs

Ear Infection Detected?

What You Can Do While Resting at Home

Children with mild AOM symptoms can be observed at home for 24-48 hours before seeking medical attention to see if symptoms resolve on their own. Pain medication (e.g. acetaminophen, such as children’s Tylenol, Advil, or generic equivalent) can be given to help decrease ear pain/discomfort. Always follow the instructions on the medication.

Being Smart With Using

Antibiotics

Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics for your child. Antibiotics may be helpful in making your child feel better, but they should only be used when necessary. Only ear infections caused by bacteria should be treated with antibiotics.

If your health care provider prescribes antibiotics, always follow the directions provided. Do not exceed recommended dosages and always take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider.

Additional Resources

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