Common ailments

Ear infection

For the past two days, my 17-month old daughter has had a runny nose and is eating only small amounts of food. She has also had a slight temperature and I have noticed she keeps tugging at her left ear. What could be wrong?

It sounds as though your daughter has a cold which may have also brought on a middle ear infection. This type of ear infection is very common in infants and is often caused by viral infections of the respiratory tract, such as a cold or sore throat. Younger children are particularly vulnerable to this type of infection as their middle ear is smaller and narrower than that of an adult, making it easier for an infection to take hold.

As mucus builds up in your daughter’s ear, she may feel as though her ear is blocked and this will probably feel very uncomfortable for her. Children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen should help with any pain and bring down her fever. A warm flannel placed over her affected ear might also help with the pain.

Most ear infections clear up within 2-3 days without the need for treatment. If, therefore, your daughter’s symptoms show no sign of improvement over the next 24 hours, you should take her to your local GP who may decide antibiotics are required to clear up the infection. Generally however, antibiotics are ineffective where the ear infection is found to be the result of a viral infection.

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