Washington Pediatric Associates logo Washington Pediatric Associates Washington Pediatric Associates

Ear Infections

Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear that usually occurs after children have had a cold for several days. Next to the common cold, an ear infection is the most common childhood illness. Most children have at least 1 ear infection by the time they are 3-years-old.

Factors that put a child at risk for ear infections are age, ear shape and size, family history, colds/allergies, and tobacco smoke.

Bottle-feeding also plays a role in ear infections: babies who are bottle-fed, especially while lying down, get more ear infections than breastfed babies. When feeding, try to hold a baby's head above the stomach level to keep the ear tubes from being blocked.
ear examination


  • Pain/unusual irritability (An older child can report that the ear hurts. Younger children may only be irritable or cry, especially during feedings, because sucking and swallowing may cause painful pressure changes in the middle ear.)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fever above 101ºF
  • Tugging or pulling at one or both ears.
  • Yellow or white fluid draining from one or both ears. This is a sign that the eardrum has opened up and the pus behind it is draining. Pain and pressure usually decrease after this drainage occurs.
  • Trouble hearing


Most ear infections can be treated at home by following these tips:
  • Pain medications (Tylenol and/or Ibuprofen) and heat to the ear can be given for pain relief.
  • If your child is receiving an antibiotic, be sure to finish the entire course of treatment. Ear pain and fever should go away within 2 to 3 days of starting treatment.
  • Have your child's ears checked in 2-3 weeks after starting treatment to make sure the ear infection has cleared. Once the infection clears, fluid may still remain in the middle ear for several weeks to months but usually disappears on its own.

Call The Office If:

  • You suspect your child may have an ear infection.