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Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Middle Ear Infections

Main Page | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Screening | Reducing Your Risk | Talking to Your Doctor | Resource Guide

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and/or experience with ear infections. By talking openly and regularly with your healthcare provider, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your healthcare provider:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of things you might have forgotten to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure to ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider

About Ear Infections

  • Are all ear infections painful?
  • If my child shows no symptoms, is there any way to know if they have an ear infection and will it matter?
  • Will untreated ear infections get better on their own?

About Your Risk of Developing Ear Infections

  • Does an ear infection mean my child has asthma or allergies?
  • Do food allergies increase my child’s risk of ear infections?
  • If my child has repeated ear infections, do I need to remove him or her from daycare or preschool?
  • Should all of my children receive a flu vaccine?
  • Are there other ways to prevent ear infections?
  • Are my other children at risk of ear infections?

About Treatment Options

  • How do we know if the cause of the ear infection will respond to antibiotic treatment? What about viruses?
  • Will taking antibiotics make my child more vulnerable to other infections?
  • What about resistance to antibiotics? Is it safe to delay antibiotic treatment of ear infections to see if they will get better on their own?
  • Are homeopathic or other remedies effective against ear infections?
  • What are the options for treatment of chronic infections?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What can I do if my child is unwilling to give up his or her pacifier?
  • Can we have a pet?

About Outlook

  • Is my child likely to outgrow ear infections? When?
  • If we have treated my child’s ear infections with antibiotics, can he or she still develop hearing loss?
  • Can my child fly during or immediately after the ear infection?
  • Can my child swim during or immediately after the ear infection?
  • Can my child take a bath or a shower during or immediately after the ear infection?


Acute otitis media (AOM). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated May 17, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Ear infections in children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: Published March 2013. Accessed September 21, 2015.

Middle ear infections. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: Updated August 20, 2015. Accessed September 21, 2015.

Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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