Bilateral ear infections are double ear infections and occur when infected fluid collects in the middle ears of both sides. They are usually more severe than unilateral infections.
These infections often happen due to bacteria or viruses. This state usually shows more severe signs than infection in one ear only.
Any ear infection requires immediate medical attention to prevent complications such as hearing loss. If a child shows symptoms such as fever and earache, or if they often touch or rub both ears, then a double ear infection may have occurred. The infection can quickly be treated and cleared within a few days.
what causes double ear infections?
Bacteria or viruses often cause ear infections. Bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are primarily responsible for these infections. Getting a cold or another respiratory infection can also trigger double ear infections in children. If the Eustachian tubes, which balance pressure in the ears, don’t work well, fluid can build up. This makes it easier for infections to happen.
Ear infections aren’t contagious, but the respiratory issues that come with them can be. Sometimes, a disease in one ear can spread to the other, causing a double ear infection. Large adenoids at the back of the nose might also lead to double ear infections in children.
Symptoms Of A Double Ear Infection in Kids
Here are some of the most common symptoms of a double ear infection (infection in both ears) in children:
- Ear pain: Children may tug at their eyes, cry more than usual, or complain of discomfort or ear pain. Pain often starts on one side and spreads to both ears.
- Fever: Low-grade fevers around 100-102°F are very common with ear infections. High fevers over 102°F can sometimes occur as well.
- Difficulty sleeping: Ear pain and fever can make it hard for the children to sleep through the night.
- Drainage from the ear: Yellow, green, or blood-tinged fluid may drain from the ear if the eardrum bursts. Some foul odor often accompanies this drainage.
- Hearing loss: Ear infections can cause fluid and swelling. This can result in muffled hearing or temporary hearing loss.
- Loss of balance: An inner ear infection can disrupt a child’s sense of equilibrium and balance. They may seem dizzy, or they may be unsteady on their feet.
- Decreased appetite: Children often eat and drink less than normal when unwell.
- Cough: Ear infections may trigger coughing, especially at night. This is due to inflammation spreading from the ears to the back of the throat.
Seek medical attention promptly when these signs and symptoms appear. Doing so can help start appropriate treatment right away.
How To Diagnose Double Ear Infection?
When doctors believe that children have a double ear infection, they follow certain procedures. They start by inquiring about the child’s recent health status. These also include questions on any recent colds or respiratory problems. They also search for characteristic symptoms. These include earache, fever, irritability, and difficulty in sleeping.
Second, they use an otoscope. With the help of this lighted instrument, they can see the eardrum. A red and swollen eardrum usually means an infection. They also look for fluid behind the eardrum.
The other step is the pneumatic otoscopy test. This includes blowing a puff of air into the ear. It allows the doctor to determine how well the eardrum moves. A poorly functioning eardrum may be hiding fluid behind it.
If the diagnosis is not yet clear, they may conduct a tympanometry test. This test is based on sound and air pressure, which measures the required flexibility. These may include using sound waves to detect fluid and removing the fluid for testing or hearing tests. Hearing tests are especially prevalent among children with ear infections.
In other cases, further tests are required. These may include using sound waves to detect fluid and removing the fluid for testing or hearing tests. Hearing tests are especially prevalent among children who often have ear infections.
How To Treat Double Ear Infection?
If your child has an ear infection, acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help relieve pain. Ensure that you administer the right dose based on age and weight.
Observe any fever and ensure they have a comfortable time, especially when lying down. Most recover without needing treatment, especially if a virus causes them. Not all ear infections require antibiotics, and only serious infections require antibiotics. Doctors may prescribe the following in case of severe infection:
Amoxicillin: This is generally the first option. Children consume it two times a day, according to their weight. It is effective and rarely leads to side effects.
Amoxicillin-Clavulanate (Augmentin): Used in case the ordinary Amoxicillin does not work or when there is a severe infection. It is Amoxicillin with another drug, two times a day.
Cefdinir, Cefuroxime, and Cefpodoxime: These are alternatives if the child is penicillin-sensitive. The amount they require differs. For instance, Cefdinir is administered once or twice daily.
Ceftriaxone (Rocephin): For severe infections or if other drugs didn’t help. It is administered intramuscularly or by vein once daily for 1 to 3 days.
Clindamycin: In severe infections that do not respond to the first drug, doctors sometimes give this antibiotic with another one.
Azithromycin: Not the first option, as some bacteria resist it. However, it can be effective.
Ciprofloxacin: Commonly used for bacterial ear infections. All the medicine should be taken to prevent making bacteria stronger.
Risks And Complications Of Double Ear Infection
Hearing trouble is often the main short-term problem with a double ear infection in children. Usually, hearing gets back to normal after the infection goes away. But, if the infection keeps coming back or lasts a long time, it can cause:
Ruptured eardrum: A terrible infection can tear the eardrum. This usually heals in a few weeks.
Speech and development delays: Children might start talking later or develop slower if they can’t hear well for a while.
Hearing loss: Sometimes, the ear can get damaged, and hearing might not be as good as before.
A double ear infection can move to other body parts like other infections. Serious problems after an ear infection are rare.
home remedies for double ear infection in children
To cure double ear infections in children, here are some simple home remedies:
- Warm Compress: Put a warm washcloth over the ears. This can alleviate pain.
- Elevation: If lying down, check that the head is elevated. This might relieve the pressure and pain in the ear.
- Hydration: Take enough fluids. Swallowing activates the Eustachian tubes, which equalizes air pressure.
Managing a double ear infection in children properly usually leads to quick healing. However, complete recovery may take a while, depending on how treatment progresses. Successful healing requires that the entire prescribed medication is taken properly. Besides medical treatment, home remedies also offer additional means to control pain. For rapid and efficient healing, visit a doctor when you experience the slightest symptoms of an ear infection.
- Ear infections in children. (2017, February 13). Retrieved from
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, April 19). Ear infection (middle ear): Symptoms and causes