Does My Toddler Have an Ear Infection?

Ear Infection - Img

Symptoms and Signs

Toddlers are known for their sweet “babble” talk, wobbly walks, and infectious giggles. But among most of those who spend considerable time with toddlers, they are also known for their high ear infection rate. In fact, ear infections are the most common reason children under the age of 8 visit a healthcare provider. Studies show that 5 out of 6 children will experience an ear infection before they turn three years old. 

Therefore, as a parent, it is wise to know the symptoms of an ear infection for your toddler and keep an eye out for the signs, as it is highly likely that an ear infection will hit your household at some point in time. 

Keep reading to learn more about ear infections symptoms in toddlers and how you should respond. 

What Causes an Ear Infection?

Ear infections occur as a result of inflammation due to bacteria and fluid buildup in the middle ear. Anyone of any age can experience an ear infection, though they are most common in children because their middle ear is more horizontally shaped and does not always drain properly. Children also do not have developed immune systems that are capable of fighting off infections. 

Most middle ear infections begin when a child experiences a sore throat, runny nose, wet cough, allergies, or an upper respiratory infection. Excess fluid builds up and migrates from the throat through the eustachian tubes that connect into the middle ear, where the ear canal traps it.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

Ear Pain

The most obvious symptom of an ear infection is when a child tells you that their ear hurts. However, for children who cannot yet talk and tell you their ear hurts, you must know what signs to look for. Young toddlers will often tug or rub on their outer ear when it hurts and will be protective of it, not wanting you to touch it. 

Loss of Appetite

The act of swallowing changes pressure in the middle ear and may cause a surge of pain when a child has an ear infection. A toddler who does not want to eat or a baby who is reluctant to nurse or take a bottle may be suffering from an ear infection. 


No child feels happy when sick or in pain, which is also true for toddlers. If your child seems especially irritable or fussy without a reason to explain it, looking for symptoms of an ear infection may explain their sudden mood change.

Difficulty Sleeping

Lying down causes the pressure in your ears to shift, and being in a horizontal position often causes inflammation to increase. If your good sleeper suddenly wakes throughout the night and exhibits other symptoms, an ear infection may be your answer. 


Around 50% of children with ear infections will run a fever between 100°- 104°. If your child carries a high fever for an extended period, you should seek emergency medical care


Ear infection fluid leaking from the ear is a tell-tale sign of a severe case. If you see yellow, brown, or white fluid that is not ear wax, you should consult a doctor. 

Hearing Loss

If you notice that your toddler has trouble hearing or is not responding appropriately to sounds, then fluid may be blocking their ability to hear correctly. 

How Are Ear Infections Treated?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors prescribe an antibiotic treatment if the child is under six months of age. Antibiotics are also the prescription when the child is between 6 months and 23 months with infection in both ears.

When the child is six months or older and the case is not severe, the AAP recommends that you observe your toddler closely for 48 to 72 hours to see if the condition improves on its own. Antibiotics are the recommendation if the ear infection does not heal on its own within this time frame or if the child is running a high fever.

If your child consistently suffers from ear infections, a visit to an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor is a good idea to rule out any further issues. Sometimes it is recommended that children with recurring cases receive ear tube surgery to help prevent ear infections in the future.

Our Online Pediatricians Can Tell You More about Ear Infection Symtpoms

When your toddler suffers from hearing loss, difficulty sleeping, and moodiness, it can be difficult to diagnose, given they could have other conditions. Becoming a medical expert for your child on the spot when you have to leave for work is a time-consuming effort. Not only is it inconvenient for you, but it also delays the time your suffering toddler can receive the diagnosis and treatment they need.

We have a team of board-certified pediatricians that specifically work with toddlers and children of all ages. Our team is more than happy to tell you more about these ear infection symptoms and how to identify them in your toddler. You can reach our office by calling today at (888)-961-8885 and our empathetic pediatrician will answer your call.

Jenny Achilles

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