Middle ear infection (child)
A middle ear infection means your child has an infection in the middle ear. This is located behind the eardrum. If your child has a cold, the cold virus can travel via the nasal pharynx, through the Eustachian tube and into the middle ear. This then creates an infection, as the virus or bacteria can no longer get away. The eardrum bulges due to pressure in the middle ear. This can hurt a lot. Middle ear infections are most common in children under 5 years of age. It rarely occurs after and during puberty.
A child with a middle ear infection will have:
- Pain in the ear.
- A fever.
- An unwell, listless feeling.
- Feelings of irritability.
- A restless feeling.
- A draining ear. The fluid comes from the infected ear and may sometimes contain a little blood too.
- Sometimes abdominal pain.
- Sometimes diarrhoea.
You can do the following in order to take good care of your child:
- Don’t let your child swim if there is still fluid coming out of the ear. This will often mean there’s a hole in the eardrum. It will first need to be given time to heal.
- Give your child some paracetamol. We recommend you read the package leaflet for the correct amount.
- Give your child another paracetamol when the last one has almost worn off.
You should contact your GP if:
- Your child is younger than one month and develops a fever.
- Your child is younger than 6 months.
- Your child is younger than 2 years and is suffering from pain in both ears.
- Your child is becoming increasingly more unwell.
- Your child is becoming drowsy or confused.
- Your child doesn’t drink, or hardly drinks.
- Your child is experiencing more and more pain.
- Your child has a pressing pain behind the ear.
- Your child’s ear is protruding from the head.
- In addition to the infection, your child also has a headache and neck pain.
- Your child has Down’s syndrome and ear pain.
- The fever has not subsided after 3 days.
- Your child’s ear is still moist after a week.
- Your child’s ear is dry within or after a week. Your GP will then check whether the hole in the eardrum has healed. Your child will not be allowed to swim yet if the hole hasn’t healed.