Pediatric Specialists of Plano

All about ear infections in children

As Plano pediatricians, we treat our fair share of ear infections in children. In fact, ear infections are one of the most common reasons why parents bring their little ones to the doctor.

An ear infection, or otitis media, is the result of bacteria and fluid building up in the middle ear. Adults can get ear infections, but they are much more rampant in children. This is because a child’s eustachian tubes (the part of the ear that drains fluid) are smaller and nearly horizontal. In contrast, an adult’s eustachian tubes are angled towards the ground. As a result, bacteria and fluid can easily accumulate in a child’s tubes, resulting in an infection.

What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

Ear infections in children typically come with some telltale signs. Many parents report the following symptoms in their child when they visit our Plano pediatricians.

  • Fever
  • Pulling at the ears
  • Fussiness or crying
  • Broken sleep
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Loss of balance
  • Congestion

A child may exhibit one or more symptoms of an ear infection, depending on their age and temperament, the severity of their infection, and whether another illness is present, such as a cold.

Sometimes, fluid can remain trapped behind the eardrum after a middle ear infection has run its course. Doctors call this otitis media with effusion (OME). This can alter your child’s hearing or balance, but it doesn’t typically cause pain.

How do you treat ear infections in children?

Our Plano pediatricians will often prescribe an antibiotic and recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever for your child. Sometimes ear infections in children can even dissipate without using an antibiotic. If we think this might be the case for your child, we may advise you to continue to monitor symptoms, use Tylenol or Motrin, and wait a day or two before filling the prescription.

If your child has signs of chronic OME, such as persistent fluid buildup and repeated middle ear infections, it may be time to visit a pediatric otolaryngologist (or ear, nose and throat doctor). A pediatric ENT may recommend ear tubes, which can be tremendously helpful for children with chronic ear infections. Your pediatrician can help you determine when it’s time to take this step, and they can refer you to a trusted ENT in our area.

For more information about ear infections or the symptoms of an ear infection, contact our office at (972) 473-7777.