Ear infection (otitis media) in children

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Otitis media is a middle ear infection caused by a backup of fluid behind the eardrum. Learn the causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment of otitis media.

Key points

  • Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. It is common in children, especially between the ages of six months and two years.
  • The infection can occur because of bacteria or viruses.
  • Give pain and fever medicine as needed. Wait and monitor your child before starting any antibiotics if they are usually healthy and aged over six months.
  • You can prevent repeat middle ear infections by washing your hands and your child's toys, following routine vaccination schedules and protecting your child from second-hand smoke.
  • See your health-care provider if your child has started an antibiotic and their symptoms do not ease after taking the antibiotic for 48 hours. Go to your nearest Emergency Department if your child's pain gets worse or your child is lethargic or vomiting.
Last updated: August 6th 2023