Ear Infections 101 – Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute


When it comes to ear infections, it’s good
to have a little bit of knowledge of the anatomy of the ears. Outer ear infections, those are the ones that
are commonly called swimmer’s ear. In the summertime, acute onset of pain after you’ve
been in a pool. That’s an outer ear infection and usually something you’re going to need
to see the doctor for. Probably the one that we deal with more is
the middle ear infections and that’s when the space behind the eardrum, basically the
part we look in with an otoscope and say, yes there’s something going on there. That’s the space behind the eardrum and
it also has the Eustachian tube, which is the plumbing. So, that’s an infection in
the space behind your eardrum. That’s called otitis media. That’s the one we deal with
the most when we talk about antibiotics and tubes. Symptoms of ear infections, probably the most
common one is ear pain. In a baby, they can’t tell you that, so tugging at an ear, fussy,
not sleeping well, irritable. Those are all common signs. In babies especially, if they’re more fussy
after they lay down, think about ears from that standpoint because ears tend to plug
up a bit more when you lay down and it might bother them more when they’re actually ok
when they’re up. Fever is another common sign, especially in
little kids. Older kids, often times, do not get a fever. In older kids it might be more
of a hearing loss or a lot of times they’ll have pain. Ear infections seems to be a rite of passage
for kids. If your child hasn’t had an ear infection by the time they’re two, you’re
probably in the lucky category. You should see the doctor if there is any
persistent pain. You can give your child, or you can take, a dose of Tylenol or Motrin
and if that takes care of it and it doesn’t come back, then that’s probably something
you don’t need to see the doctor for. If you do that Tylenol or Motrin and as soon
as it wears off you have pain again, then you should see them. You should see the doctor for any severe pain,
high temp that isn’t going away in a day or two. Basically, all the things you would
take your child to the doctor for or what you would go to the doctor for in any case. Most commonly and again, we’re talking about
otitis media, which is the infection behind the eardrum, usually for those you’re going
to get an antibiotic and generally, you need to take some Tylenol and Motrin for the pain.

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