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What is an ear infection?

Inside the ear is a small space filled with air. You have an ear infection when germs get into the ear. This makes the area fill up with fluid. When the fluid builds up, the inside of the ear will swell. This can really hurt.

woman looks at child with pained look on face and hand over ear. Inset shows enlarged photo of ear with red color around edge

How Does a Doctor Check for an Ear Infection?

They will use a tool called an otoscope. An otoscope has a light and a magnifying glass. It lets the doctor see inside the ear.

Man with white jacket looking into young girl's ear with otoscope

  • Ear Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Ear Smell
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Fever
Common Signs Shown by Children
  •  Crying
  •  Trouble Sleeping
  •  Pulling at Ear
  •  Balance Problems
  •  Trouble Hearing
  •  Fluid coming from ear
Image: left side inner ear healthy/air filled; right side inner ear filled with pus/infection
Healthy middle ear on left with air in middle ear; Ear infection on right shows pus in middle ear
How to Make the Ear Infection Better?

A doctor will suggest taking a medicine called amoxicillin. This is a common medicine for ear infections. The doctor may also give you medicine to make the pain better. These have names like “acetaminophen” or “ibuprofen.” Within 3 to 6 weeks, the ear infection should be gone.

How to Keep the Ear Infections From Coming Back

These will lower the chances of your child getting an ear infection:

  • Wash hands often
  • Keep babies away from cigarette smoke
  • Do not lay your baby down for a nap with a bottle
  • Avoid sick children

Resources – Ear Infections
WebMD – Ear Infections 

Section created by Kristen Tully 2017.5

Anatomy of the Ear