Ear Infections - Treatment Overview
Fluid buildup and hearing problems continued...
Have your child's hearing tested if the fluid lasts longer than 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, then 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.
If your child is younger than 2, your doctor may not wait 3 months to start treatment. Hearing problems at this age could affect your child's speaking ability. This is also why children in this age group are closely watched when they have ear infections.
If there is a hearing problem, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to help clear the fluid. The doctor might also suggest placing tubes in the ears to drain the fluid and improve hearing.
- Ear Problems: Should My Child Be Treated for Fluid Buildup in the Middle Ear?
Doctors may consider surgery for children who have repeat ear infections or for those who have persistent fluid behind the eardrum. Procedures include inserting ear tubes or removing adenoids and, in rare cases, the tonsils. For more information, see Surgery.
Treating other problems
Children who get rare but serious problems from ear infections, such as infection in the tissues around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or infection in the bone behind the ear (mastoiditis), need treatment right away.