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How can I tell if my child has an ear infection?

Ear, Nose & Throat Children’s Health

I have a toddler aged 3 and my friends have been warning me that kids are very susceptible to ear infections at this age. But she is not very articulate yet. What are the signs that I should look out for?

DOCTOR’S ANSWER (1)

Hi Emma, Thanks for the D2D.

It may not always be easy to tell if your child might be suffering from an ear infection, especially if they aren’t able to speak properly yet.

But the parents of my kiddie patients with ear infections have told me that they were worried about their child tugging repeatedly at his or her own ears, or trying to stick their fingers into their ears, so that was why they brought their child to see me for a thorough checkup.

Occasionally, kids with ear infections may be in pain or run a fever. They may also be more grumpy or cranky than usual. Some kids may be unfortunate enough to have yellowish or unpleasant-smelling liquid discharge coming out of their ears. 

Ear infections in kids may also cause hearing loss so if you notice that your child isn’t responding promptly as usual when you call to him, or if the TV is turned up more loudly than normal, then this may mean your child’s ears are blocked with impacted wax or infected fluid behind their eardrums.

 ent singapore

Young kids are susceptible to nose and throat infections, not just ear problems. Their immune system is not yet fully mature and most young kids usually attend daycare or nursery, where they mingle closely with other children and are at risk of catching another child’s “bug”.

The Eustachian pressure tubes of a young child are also shorter in length than an adult’s and lie at a more horizontal angle, so nose and throat infections are more likely to spread via these Eustachian tubes to the child’s ears.


Dr Annabelle Leong
MBBS (Hons)(London), BSc (Hons), DOHNS (England), FRCS-ORLHNS (England)

The ENT Clinic

Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
38 Irrawaddy Road, #07-46/47
Singapore 329563


681 views 3 Oct 2018
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