Ear infections are the most common illnesses in babies and young children. Most often, the infection affects the middle ear and is called otitis media. The tubes inside the ears become clogged with fluid and mucus. This can affect hearing, because sound cannot get through all that fluid.
If your child does not yet talk, you need to look for signs of an infection:
- Tugging at ears
- Crying more than usual
- Ear drainage
- Trouble sleeping
- Balance difficulties
- Hearing problems
Often, ear infections go away on their own, but your health care provider may recommend pain relievers. Severe infections and infections in young babies may require antibiotics. Children who get frequent infections may need surgery to place small tubes inside their ears. The tubes relieve pressure in the ears so that the child can hear again.
NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/earinfections.html)