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Ear Problems In Children

Sellwood Medical Clinic

Pediatric and Family Medicine practice with four locations in the greater Portland metropolitan area

More than 80% of children have an ear infection or other ear problem by the time they turn 3 years old. Just because ear issues in children may be common, however, doesn’t mean they’re not potentially serious problems. At Sellwood Medical Clinic, which has three locations in Portland, Oregon, you can get customized care for all kinds of children’s ear problems. The experienced team can help your child maintain great ear health and hearing, so book an appointment online or call the office nearest you today.

Ear Problems in Children Q & A

What are the most common ear problems in children?

Infections are the most common ear problem in children today. Ear infections can occur anywhere in the ear, and may include:

Acute otitis media (AOM)

Acute otitis media is the most commonly occurring ear infection. It happens when fluid collects in your child's middle ear, specifically the area in the back of the eardrum. This causes inflammation, swelling, and infection. Often, this infection is connected to bacteria or a virus. 

Otitis media with effusion

Otitis media with effusion is a lingering problem in which fluid remains behind your child's eardrum even after an ear infection resolves. 

Chronic otitis media with effusion

Chronic otitis media with effusion occurs when your child constantly has fluid in their middle ear, even in the absence of infection. This can damage hearing eventually. 

Your child may also experience other noninfection-related ear problems like otitis externa (swimmer's ear), in which water gets trapped in their external ear canal and causes inflammation. 

A foreign object in the ear canal, whether large or small, can also cause serious ear problems for children of any age. 

What are the signs of ear problems in children?

If your child is already speaking, they may complain of ear pain, soreness, or not hearing well. If your child is nonverbal, you may notice symptoms such as:


  • Being unusually fussy
  • Restless sleep
  • Pulling on ears
  • Rubbing ears
  • Fever
  • Fluid drainage from ears
  • Disorientation, such as balance issues
  • Slower response to soft noises than usual 


If you suspect an ear problem, a fast response is important in preserving your child’s health and hearing. Some ear problems can grow into serious long-term issues if you don’t get help in the early stages. 

How does a doctor treat children’s ear problems?

Sellwood Medical Clinic offers full-scale testing and treatment for children’s ear problems. The skilled providers determine the underlying cause of ear problems with a gentle exam and testing. 

Then, they prescribe medication like antibiotics and may recommend Children’s Tylenol® for pain relief. Sellwood Medical Clinic has a Tylenol by weight calculator available on site. 

Your child’s doctor may also recommend improved ear hygiene tips, ear protection while swimming, and other measures to minimize ear problems in the future. 

If your child has chronic ear infections or has hearing loss because of fluid accumulation, the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to place ear tubes. 

Get help for children’s ear problems by calling Sellwood Medical Clinic or booking an appointment online.