If your child isn't better after a couple of days of home
treatment, call your doctor. He or she may prescribe antibiotics.
Ear Infection: Should I Give My Child Antibiotics?
Decongestants, antihistamines, and other
over-the-counter cold remedies do not often work for
treating or preventing ear infection. Antihistamines that cause sleepiness may
thicken fluids, which can make your child feel worse. Check with the doctor
before giving these medicines to your child. Experts say not to give
decongestants to children younger than 2.
If your child with an
ear infection must take an airplane trip, talk with your doctor about how to
cope with ear pain during the trip.
Fluid behind the eardrum after
an ear infection is normal. And in most children, the fluid clears up within 3
months without treatment. Test your child's hearing if the fluid persists past
that point. If hearing is normal, you may choose to continue monitoring your
child without treatment.
If a child has repeat ear infections (three or more
ear infections in a 6-month period or four in 1 year),
you may want to consider treatment to prevent future infections.
One option used a lot in the past is long-term oral antibiotic treatment.
There is debate within the medical community about using antibiotics on a
long-term basis to prevent ear infections. Many doctors don't want to prescribe
long-term antibiotics, because they are not sure that they really work. Also,
when antibiotics are used too often, bacteria can become
resistant to antibiotics. Having tubes put in the ears is another
option for treating repeat ear infections.
If your child has fluid
buildup without infection, you may try watchful waiting. Fluid behind the
eardrum after an ear infection is normal. In most children, the fluid clears up
within a few months without treatment. Have your child's hearing tested if the
fluid persists past 3 months. If hearing is normal, you may choose to keep
watching your child without treatment.
If a child has fluid behind
the eardrum for more than 3 months and has significant hearing problems,
treatment is needed. Sometimes short-term hearing loss occurs, which is
especially a concern in children ages 2 and younger. Normal hearing is very
important when young children are learning to talk.
Ear Problems: Should My Child Be Treated for Fluid Buildup in the Middle Ear?
Treatment if the condition gets worse
consider surgery for children with repeat ear infections or those with
persistent fluid behind the eardrum. Procedures include inserting ear tubes or
adenoids and, in rare cases, the tonsils.
Inserting tubes Inserting tubes into the eardrum (myringotomy or
tympanostomy with tube placement) allows fluid to drain from the middle ear.
The tubes keep fluid from building up and may prevent repeat ear infections.
These tubes stay in place for 6 to 12 months and then fall out on their own. If
needed, tubes are inserted again if more fluid builds up. About 8 out of 10
children need no further treatment after tubes are inserted for otitis media