When should I call the doctor about my child’s ear infection?

Children are particularly prone to suffering from ear infections, which occur when the middle ear becomes inflamed, fluid builds up behind the eardrum and bacteria accumulate. If you notice signs of a possible ear infection, call your child’s pediatrician right away.

The doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. If so, make sure your child takes the medication exactly as prescribed. Even if he or she appears to feel better, it’s critical to finish the full course of antibiotics. If your child doesn’t begin to feel better within a few days, call the doctor.

Call your child’s doctor right away if your child has one or more of the following symptoms:

  • He does not smile or play for even a few minutes every 4 hours.
  • Still has fever 48 hours after antibiotics are started.
  • He develops new symptoms.
  • The pain does not go away after 48 hours.
  • He shows signs of dehydration (drying out)
  • No urine in six to eight hours in an infant younger than 1 year old
  • No urine in more than eight hours in a child older than 1 year old
  • No tears when crying
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry lips and mouth
  • He has problems taking the antibiotic.
  • He has redness or swelling of the skin behind the ear.

Continue Learning about Ear Disorders

Ear Disorders

Ear Disorders

Your ear is a complex organ composed of the outer, middle and inner ear (as well as fluid). Any disorder involving your ear -- ear infections, tinnitus, Meniere's disease -- can affect either your hearing or your balance. Treatmen...

t options for ear disorders vary based on the type of disorder you have.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.