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.
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.
Alert & Active
Pain Medication is Working
Able to Sleep & Eat
Temperature < 39°C (102°F)
Mild Ear Ache/Pain
Ill for < 48 Hours
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
Fluid Leaking From Ear
Febrile Seizure Occurs
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.
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.