Feature Archive

Ear Infection

Ear Infections

WebMD Feature

Ear infection: The diagnosis strikes fear in the hearts of parents, who want to do what's best for their child but tend to get conflicting medical advice. What makes ear infections so troubling is not only the damage that repeated infections can cause, but also the danger of over-treating the infection: antibiotic resistance. What's a concerned parent to do? Here's what the experts know.

Usually Not a Cause for Alarm

Two-thirds of children have had an ear infection, also known as acute otitis media, before their first birthday. Young children are susceptible to these infections in part because their eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the throat and nose, is underdeveloped and lies at a horizontal angle (it becomes more angled with age), easily clogging with fluid. Also, young children's immune systems are still developing, putting them at high risk for upper respiratory infections, which can lead to ear infections.

Symptoms of an Ear Infection

  • Fever
  • Pain in the ear (babies rub or pull on their ears)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (in infants only)
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Crying/pain when sucking
  • Loss of sleep or appetite

Treatments and Complications