Probably the most common complications of colds are earaches and ear infections.  Older children will complain of discomfort or you will notice a decrease in the child’s hearing.  The infant may cry frequently and may also rub his ears (However, many infants will tug at their ears without any apparent problem.)

In the treatment of an earache, it is important to treat the cold as outlined above.  For the PAIN, you may give your child acetaminophen in appropriate doses for age.  There are prescription eardrops available, which dull the pain but do not cure infections.  When an infection is present, antibiotics are sometimes needed, and it is best for the doctor to always examine the ear in order to make that decision.

Because many children complain of ear pain when they do not have an infection, the ears should always be examined before an antibiotic is started.  Earaches that start in the day frequently become more painful that night, so call the office so that our nurse can help you determine if your child needs to be seen.  Severe pain may require you calling the doctor even outside office hours, and draining ears always needs an appointment.

SEROUS OTITIS MEDIA, which is persistent fluid in the middle ear, needs close follow up.  This is done to try to prevent recurrent ear infections and/or eventually hearing loss.  Hearing tests are periodically recommended, especially after severe infections, lingering fluid, or recurring earaches.  The more severe complications of ear infections are uncommon, but it is still important to get appropriate treatment of the earache.