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A NOTE FROM OUR NURSE ~ December 2016


Preventing and Treating Ear Infections


Ear infections can affect the ear canal or the middle ear. Infections that affect the ear canal are also
called swimmer’s ear. Most common in winter are infections that affect the middle ear. One type
occurs when fluid builds up in the middle ear without pain, pus, fever or other signs of infection.
This type goes away on its own and does not benefit from antibiotics. The other type occurs
when the fluid becomes infected and may be treated with antibiotics.
Ear infections often occur after a cold when viruses cause fluid in the middle ear which then
becomes infected with bacteria. The best way to prevent ear infections is to prevent colds and the
best way to do that is with thorough hand washing. The flu vaccine prevents infection which may lead to
an ear infection. Exposure to cigarette smoke can lead to more colds and, then, more ear infections.
The tendency to develop ear infections may run in families.
Watchful waiting for 2-3 days is sometimes recommended as the body’s own immune system can
sometimes fight off the infection without help from antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to treat severe
ear infections or ear infections that last longer than 2-3 days.
To relieve ear pain, acetaminophen or ibuprofen are recommended as long as there are no
contraindications. If your child has a fever of 102.2 degrees or higher, discharge or fluid coming from
the ear or symptoms are much worse, you should contact your child’s doctor.

Susan Quigley, RN, NCSN

Tiger Times December 2016