Earaches are very common in children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years.  Most children have at least one ear infection before their eight birthday.  Ear infections often follow a cold, but cannot be spread from person to person.  Some ear infections are also caused by allergies.


Tugging of the ears and fever are signs of an ear infection.  The child may cry more and seem fussier than normal.  Simply touching the ears may cause pain.  Swallowing, chewing and nose blowing can increase ear pain.  The pain is caused by pressure changes inside the ear.  Older children may say their ears feel like they are under water.

Ear infections can cause short-term hearing loss.  The child may not hear far-away noises.

A child’s eardrum can break if too much pressure builds up behind it.  Signs of a broken eardrum are blood and pus draining from the ear.  This drainage does not mean that the infection has gotten worse.  The small break will heal on its own in a few days.  However, the child could have a slight hearing loss until the infection is gone.  Hearing usually returns to normal after treatment.  If it does not fully return, a hearing test may be needed.

If your child has frequent ear infections, your doctor may suggest putting tubes in the ears.  The tubes let liquid drain from the ears and can help prevent additional infections.


Source: The PDR Family Guide, Encyclopedia of Medical Care (1997)