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Ear Infections

Ear infections are one of the most common childhood illnesses, striking most children at least once before the age of three. Characterized by pain, dizziness, fever, and reduced hearing, ear infections are the most common reason children are prescribed antibiotics.

Infants are prone to ear infections because their Eustachian tubes are short and nearly horizontal, which encourages fluid and bacteria to build up and infection to develop. However, as children grow older, their tubes lengthen and become vertical, making drainage easier and infections less common. Ear infections usually occur just after a cold, sinus infection or a bout of allergies, all of which can cause the nasal and ear passages to become filled with mucus and bacteria, causing infection, swelling and pain, and possibly rupturing the eardrum.

Your child may be too young to tell you his or her ear hurts, so look for common signs of an ear infection, including:

  • Unusual fussiness, crying, or irritability

  • Fever of 101 to 102 degrees F

  • Pulling or grabbing of the ears

  • Diarrhea - the viruses that cause ear infections can also affect the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Reduced appetite - an ear infection may make it painful for your baby to chew or swallow.

  • Yellowish or whitish fluid draining from the ear - this is caused by a hole in the eardrum, which will heal on its own once the infection is treated

  • A foul odor coming from the ear

  • Loss of balance

  • Trouble hearing

  • Unwillingness to lie flat

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