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HealthInfo Canterbury

Middle-ear infections (otitis media)

otitis mediaEar infections are common in children but adults can also get them. They can cause ear pain, fever, and hearing loss. Middle-ear infection, is also called otitis media.

This page mainly refers to ear infections in children.

Paracetamol can help the pain from ear infections, but make sure the dose is correct for the child's age and weight. Too much paracetamol can be dangerous. Check with your pharmacist or doctor.

Some children (normally older than 2) don't need antibiotics for ear infections, and can get better without them. Whether your child needs antibiotics or not depends on how unwell they are, their age, and their general health.

Middle ear infections can also lead to glue ear.

When to see a doctor

Fever and a sore ear can also be signs of other illnesses. Go to a doctor if:

You can reduce the chance of your child getting ear infections by:

Recurrent ear infections

Ear infectionMost children grow out of getting ear infections, but some children keep on getting them. Your doctor may refer you or your child to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist if:

The specialist will talk to you about whether your child needs hearing tests or ventilation tubes (also called grommets). They may suggest you wait and see what happens. This depends on whether there is a problem in just one ear or both ears, and whether your child's hearing is affected. They might also recommend giving the infection or glue ear more time to settle and returning for another check-up.

On the next page: Glue ear

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Otolaryngology, Canterbury DHB. Page created August 2015.

See also:

Hearing in babies and children

Hearing loss

Outer ear infection


Page reference: 137996

Review key: HIEIG-48027