Understanding Ear Infections in Infants

By: Bigelow Fowler Clinics, May 25, 2015
Understanding Ear Infections in Infants, Bigelow Fowler Clinics

My child has an ear infection, what do I do?

My child has a runny nose, earache, and cough, is irritable and has a fever (temperature above 38.5°). What do I do?
  • These are symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. Most of these infections are caused by viruses.
  • Take your child’s temperature with a thermometer and record it

Tips to Reduce a Fever:

  • Undress your child
  • Give your child a lukewarm bath
  • Provide cool drinks/popsicles
  • Acetaminophen is usually all that is needed to help with pain and fever.
When should I take my child to the doctor?

For all children, try the tips above, then:

  • If your child is less than 3 months old, take him/her to the doctor that day
  • If your child is older than 3 months but less than 2 years old and is no better after 24 hours, take him/her to the doctor
  • If your child is over 2 years and is not getting better after 3 days (still has a fever), take him/her to the doctor
Does my child need an antibiotic?
  • Your doctor will do a thorough assessment and examination to decide if a virus is causing the illness. Viral illnesses are not treated with antibiotics and most children get better within 2-3 days.
  • If your doctor decides that you child has an ear infection (otitis media) and he/she is not better within 2 to 3 days, an antibiotic may be given.
  • If your child is less than 2 years old, your doctor may choose to treat with antibiotics sooner.
Why aren’t antibiotics used for viral infections?
  • Antibiotics do not kill viruses
  • Antibiotics encourage the growth of more resistant bacteria (superbugs) and may make it more difficult to treat other infections later


  • Wash hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing the nose
  • Wash children’s toys frequently to stop the spread of germs
  • Breast feeding helps to protect babies from getting ear infections
  • Do not lay your infant down with a bottle
  • Keep children away from cigarette smoke
  • Make sure that your child gets plenty of fluids
  • Never insert Q-tips into your child’s ears
  • Take and record your child’s temperature with a thermometer
Where can I get more information?
  • See your doctor
  • After reading this brochure, there may be other questions that you wish to ask. It may be helpful to write down any questions you have or points that you would like to discuss with your doctor.

Established in 1929 by Doctor J.K. Bigelow and Doctor D.B. Fowler, the Bigelow Fowler Clinics have been serving Lethbridge and area for over 80 years. Our Clinics are proud to offer full service primary health care at all three of our locations; Bigelow Fowler East Clinic, Bigelow Fowler South Clinic, Bigelow Fowler West Clinic. Our Clinics are home to 24 physicians who continually strive to offer patient friendly, family healthcare to people of all ages, from newborn to geriatric.The Bigelow Fowler Clinics provide a wide range of quality healthcare services including occupational health, sports medicine and physical examinations with x-ray and lab services available at the South and West clinic locations.