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    Ear Infections - When To Call a Doctor

    Call your doctor immediately if:

    • Your child has sudden hearing loss, severe pain, or dizziness.
    • Your child seems to be very sick with symptoms such as a high fever and stiff neck.
    • You notice redness, swelling, or pain behind or around your child's ear, especially if your child doesn't move the muscles on that side of his or her face.

    Call your doctor if:

    Recommended Related to Ear Infection

    Understanding Ear Infections -- the Basics

    An ear infection, or otitis media, is the most common cause of earaches. Although this condition is a frequent cause of infant distress and is often associated with children, it can also affect adults. The infection in the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum where tiny bones pick up vibrations and pass them along to the inner ear) very often accompanies a common cold, the flu, or other types of respiratory infections. This is because the middle ear is connected to the upper respiratory tract...

    Read the Understanding Ear Infections -- the Basics article > >

    • You can't quiet your child who has a severe earache by using home treatment over several hours.
    • Your baby pulls or rubs his or her ear and appears to be in pain (crying, screaming).
    • Your child's ear pain increases even with treatment.
    • Your child has a fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher with other signs of ear infection.
    • You suspect that your child's eardrum has burst, or fluid that looks like pus or blood is draining from the ear.
    • Your child has an object stuck in his or her ear.
    • Your child with an ear infection continues to have symptoms (fever and pain) after 48 hours of treatment with an antibiotic.
    • Your child with an ear tube develops an earache or has drainage from his or her ear.

    Watchful waiting

    Watchful waiting is when you and your doctor watch symptoms to see if the health problem improves on its own. If it does, no treatment is needed. If the symptoms don't get better or if they get worse, then it's time to take the next treatment step.

    Your doctor may recommend watchful waiting if your child is 2 years of age or older, has mild ear pain, and is otherwise healthy. Most ear infections get better without antibiotics. But if your child's pain doesn't get better with nonprescription children's pain reliever (such as acetaminophen) or the symptoms continue after 48 hours, call a doctor.

    Who to see

    Health professionals who can diagnose and treat ear infections include:

    Children who often get ear infections may need to see one of these specialists:

    • Otolaryngologist
    • Pediatric otolaryngologist
    • Audiologist

    To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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