Ear Infection

Ear Infections

You notice your child tugging at her ear, seemingly unresponsive to sounds. These are just a couple of the symptoms that may indicate an ear infection, a common condition among young children.

Timely Treatment for Ear Infections

If you suspect your child might have an ear infection, bring them to your local Vital Urgent Care center. Our friendly and welcoming medical team will promptly evaluate your child so that you can begin treatment and help them feel better quickly.

Understanding Ear Infections

Acute otitis media is a middle ear infection typically caused by a virus or bacteria. It often occurs as a result of other conditions, such as upper respiratory infections or allergies, leading to the swelling of the Eustachian tubes. This, in turn, increases the risk of an ear infection when fluid accumulates in the middle ear or the surrounding tissues of the mastoid bone.

The Role of Eustachian Tubes

The Eustachian tubes connect each middle ear to the back of your throat, regulating air pressure and draining fluid from the ears. Children are more susceptible to ear infections because their Eustachian tubes are narrower and more horizontal, making it difficult for them to drain properly. Acute otitis media with effusion (OME) can also occur when the Eustachian tubes become clogged.

Signs of Ear Infections

An ear infection may manifest with various symptoms, including:

  • Ear pain, which may worsen when lying down
  • Pulling or tugging at the ear
  • Increased irritability
  • Failure to respond to sounds
  • Unusual crying
  • Fever
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Headache
  • Temporary hearing loss

While ear infections are more common in children, adults can also develop them. If you experience any of the above symptoms after a cold or during a flare-up of seasonal allergies, it's advisable to seek evaluation at Vital Urgent Care.

Diagnosing Ear Infections

To diagnose an ear infection, the medical team at Vital Urgent Care will gather information about the symptoms and perform a physical examination. During the examination, they will use an otoscope to examine the inside of the ears. If the ear appears inflamed, a pneumatic otoscope may be utilized to confirm the presence of fluid behind the eardrum. This device gently puffs air against the eardrum, and if the eardrum does not move or moves only slightly, it indicates the presence of fluid in the middle ear.

Risk Factors

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of blocked Eustachian tubes and middle ear infections, including:

  • Weak immune system: A weakened immune system increases the risk of frequent ear infections. Upper respiratory tract infections and sinusitis can also contribute to issues with the ear tubes.
  • Allergies: Seasonal allergies, specific substance allergies, or chronic allergies may heighten the risk of ear infections.
  • Family history: A family history of chronic ear infections can increase an individual's likelihood of developing them.
  • Physical conditions: Individuals with craniofacial conditions, such as cleft palate or enlarged structures in the ears, nose, or throat, may have an increased risk of ear infections.

Treating Ear Infections

The treatment for an ear infection depends on the patient's age and the severity of the infection. While some ear infections may improve without antibiotics, others may require medication.

Wait and Watch

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a "wait-and-see" approach in certain cases, depending on the patient's age and the severity of their symptoms. Our medical team can evaluate children and determine the appropriate treatment, whether that involves immediate medication or a "wait-and-see" approach.


If a bacterial infection is present, antibiotics may be necessary to treat it. The provider will prescribe antibiotics based on the patient's age, whether they have an acute infection, and if they have a penicillin allergy.

Managing Discomfort

While waiting for the infection to clear, there are a few things you can do to alleviate discomfort. Applying a warm compress to the affected ear can provide relief. Additionally, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain.

Remember, timely evaluation and appropriate treatment are crucial in addressing ear infections and ensuring your child's well-being.

Minimizing Risk

There are several simple ways to decrease the likelihood of ear infections, such as receiving a yearly flu vaccine, practicing proper hand hygiene before touching your ears, and maintaining clean ear lobes.

Swimmer's ear, an infection that occurs when water becomes trapped in the ear canal, provides a breeding ground for bacteria. This commonly affects individuals involved in water-based sports. To prevent the discomfort and pain associated with this infection, consider the following measures:

  • Utilize ear plugs when frequently exposed to water.
  • Tilt your head from side to side after exiting the water to facilitate drainage from your ears.
  • Refrain from inserting any objects into your ear canal.
  • To inhibit bacterial growth, opt for swimmer's ear drops or a mixture of vinegar and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol in a 1:1 ratio. However, consult your healthcare provider before using this remedy.

To reduce the risk of ear infections in children, pediatricians recommend limiting pacifier use after six months and ensuring proper feeding techniques to prevent liquids from dribbling into their ears, creating a moist environment conducive to ear infections.

Access to

Urgent Care

when you need it most

Book an Appointment

To Top