(406) 587-5870  f: (406) 522-1536   /   280 W Kagy Blvd, Suite G Bozeman, MT 59715

(406) 587-5870
f: (406) 522-1536
280 W Kagy Blvd, Suite G Bozeman, MT 59715

Ear Infection

An ear infection is a bacterial infection of the middle ear, the space behind the eardrum. It usually develops several days or more into a viral cold. The cold virus causes fluid to collect in the middle ear and then the fluid becomes infected with bacteria. Symptoms typically include fussiness, poor sleep, decreased appetite, and sometimes fever or decreased hearing. If your child is old enough to talk, he or she is likely to complain of ear pain as well. Many young kids with an ear infection will pull the ears, though this is common with colds too and is not a reliable indication of an ear infection.

  • Most children will have at least one ear infection by 3 years old.
  • Children exposed to cigarette or other smoke, and those in day care are most likely to have ear infections repeatedly. Avoiding smoke, practicing good hand washing, breastfeeding, and not feeding your baby while he or she lies flat, will lower the likelihood of an ear infection.
  • Ear infections are not contagious and your child may return to day care or school when he or she is feeling better and the fever is gone.
  • It is safe for your child to travel by airplane when he or she has an ear infection.


  • Your child's ear appears swollen or the bone behind the ear is very tender


  • Your child has symptoms of an ear infection, especially if these symptoms develop several days or more after the start of a cold
  • Your child has a cold that improves and then seems to get worse again
  • You notice yellow or reddish drainage coming from your child's ear


  • Treat with acetaminophen or ibuprofen following the guidelines inside the back cover of this book if your child seems uncomfortable
  • Elevate the head of your child's bed to reduce pain associated with lying flat
  • If your child is older than 2 years old, the ear infection will clear without antibiotics half of the time. Treat with pain relievers for 2 days and call for an appointment if the symptoms continue. Call sooner if the symptoms are severe. If your child is under 2 years old, treat with pain relievers following the guidelines inside the back cover of this book until the office opens and then call for an appointment
  • If your child is prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to give it as directed and finish the full course