Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Pediatric Ear Infections: The Flu’s Obnoxious Best Friend

The number one reason students are getting sick this winter is the common cold. But can you guess the second? It’s not sore throats, allergies, bike accidents, cafeteria food poisoning, hiking mishaps, or dog bites.

Stumped? Well, listen up!

Ear infections, usually tag-teaming with influenza and colds, are at it again this year.

Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections, especially middle ear infections. In fact, more than 80% of children will have an ear infection before age three. It’s not just due to the fact kids are more likely to insert foreign objects in their ears than the average adult. They also tend to have weaker immune systems and smaller eustachian tubes, which means fluid behind the eardrum takes longer to drain.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

Children and adults experience ear infections differently. In younger kids (remember, weaker immune systems and ears that store fluid like buckets), an ear infection might be obvious: blood, pus, or fluid draining out of the ear is a sure sign something’s amiss behind the eardrum. But ear infections can also present as a fever clearing a 100ºF (37.8º).

Children might cry, fiddle with their ear, or tell you their ear hurts. Lying down in bed may worsen their pain. You may even notice that your kid is unusually clumsy (since the organ that controls balance is part of the inner ear) or is hard of hearing, too.

In adults, earaches don’t usually cause fevers, but they can cause nausea and pain (both sharp and dull) in the ear. A sense of fullness or muffled hearing is also common.

When Does An Ear Infection Need Medical Attention?

Some ear infections will resolve on their own, but many won’t. When an ear infection rages on untreated or frequently recurs, other parts of the ear and even the brain can become infected - which is just as dangerous as it sounds. Permanent damage to the eardrum (when pressure builds up, the membrane of the eardrum can be stressed until it ruptures) and hearing loss can also occur. In children whose speech is still developing, this sort of damage can delay normal milestones in language learning. Put simply, ear infections shouldn’t be ignored, especially in kids.

Whenever you suspect that your elementary school aged child has an ear infection, you should pay careful attention. If you’re not seeing any improvement after a few hours, their pain looks severe or is worsening, their fever is over 101 degrees, or the eardrum is leaking any fluid, it’s time for a checkup. Symptoms that you should never wait and watch from home include hearing loss, pain, or dizziness that comes on suddenly and severely; stiff neck; or lots of visible redness and swelling around the ear. These are potential signs of more serious conditions that demand immediate medical attention. In adults, ear pain that doesn’t go away after a few days or is accompanied by a fever also warrants professional care.

An urgent care center is ideal for ear infections: you could be waiting hours at a city emergency room, and pediatricians get booked solid with flu cases this time of year. At GoHealth Urgent Care centers, your child can get quality medical care in minutes, any time of the day. When your child’s in pain, nothing’s more important than speedy relief. GoHealth Urgent Care centers can rapidly diagnose serious problems and fast-track you to emergency care if it’s necessary. With the option to book round-the-clock same-day appointments online, you don’t have to mess up your schedule to treat a nagging earache.

How Are Ear Infections Treated?

After examining the ear with an otoscope (in essence, a very expensive flashlight that fits in the ear) or inserting a small microphone nested in a soft earplug to measure the movement of the eardrum (neither of which are invasive or painful), your urgent care professional may prescribe medications to reduce ear pain or services to drain the fluid buildup. When the ear infection is severe (high fever, relentless pain), antibiotics might be recommended right off the bat.

If your child suffers from recurring ear infections, a doctor might suggest ear tubes, small cylinders surgically implanted (commonly an outpatient procedure) inside the ear for fluid to drain. This decision takes some planning but can prevent permanent hearing loss and make speech and heighten auditory recognition.

Natural Remedies to Try at Home

  • Natural oils/Essential oils: tea tree (melaleuca) and garlic oil have been used for centuries to stop infections of all kinds. Coconut oil to is a natural antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal oil that is safe for use in children.
  • Chiropractic care: chiropractic adjustments have been clinically effective when used to treat ear infections. Since the nervous system controls almost every single body function, misalignments can cause inner and middle ear issues. Typically a series of treatments and adjustments are needed for the treatment to be effective.
  • Allergies: dairy, nuts, gluten and some fruits have been known to cause infections that spread to the ear canal. This a more common cause in infants and toddlers more than adults. Be sure to get a allegen screening at your next check-up!

When you visit any GoHealth Urgent Care location nearest you, you’ll work with a team of professionals that know ear infections inside and out! We’ll act fast to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and stop permanent hearing damage in its path.

At GoHealth Urgent Care, we put you first! Try booking your appointment online using the widget below, or feel free to walk-in and see a physician as soon as possible!




We Put You First

Check-in online or just walk in and be cared for from best-in-class providers who make you their priority

people iconCulture Of Care
Culture Of Care

Highly skilled, caring providers go out of their way to make you their #1 priority.

hands shaking iconTrusted Partnerships
Trusted Partnerships

We partner with leading health systems that have the finest networks of physicians and clinicians.

workflow iconEffortless Experience
Effortless Experience

Enjoy effortless access with online check-ins, walk in appointments and integrated electronic medical records.

marker iconInnovative Facilities
Innovative Facilities

State of the art urgent care centers welcome you with a clean, contemporary design engineered for your comfort and privacy.

Health News and Tips for the Whole Family

By providing your email address you agree that GoHealth Urgent Care and our health system partner may contact you in the future. Your privacy is important to us; view our Privacy Policy.