Ear infection (otitis media) : symptoms and treatments

March 2017
Otitis media is an infection and inflammation of the middle ear. It is the second most frequent infection in children after a cold.


Ear infections can happen separately, or present with another infection such as a cold or sore throat.

One or both ears can be affected.


Symptoms of otitis media


  • Ear ache, pulling ears, crying in pain.
  • It can be associated with a common cold therefore has runny nose symptoms before the infection appears.
  • Buzzing in the ear and or a feeling of a blocked ear.
  • Temporary reduced hearing in the affected ear.
  • If the ear drum bursts, the appearance of a yellow liquid (pus) or a small amount of blood can be seen leaking from the ear.
  • Tiredness, fever, headaches, sore throat and difficulties in sleeping can accompany otitis media.

General Advice

  • The use of cotton buds is not recommended because they can cause a perforation of the ear drums.
  • Do not smoke: smoking is a risk factor
  • Avoid exposure to loud noise
  • Teach the child how to blow her noise; one nostril at a time. This helps to keep the ventilation tube from the ear to the nose clear
  • Avoid the exposure to allergens...

Treatment: see your GP

  • Do not lay your child on the side of the infected ear because this position will worsen the pain.
  • Most ear infections are viral especially when associated with a cold. Therefore antibiotic treatment is reserved for bacterial infections, and not given if a viral infection is suspected.
  • Give regular paracetamol for pain
  • Keep your child's nose clean
  • Avoid smoking

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