Parents want to know if their child can be around a friend or classmate who has recently been diagnosed with an ear infection.
What causes an ear infection?
Ear infections occur when fluid builds up in the middle ear, behind the ear drum. When a child gets a cold, this fluid cannot drain properly. When it sits there, it can get infected with bacteria, causing pain and fever. Many parents are surprised to learn that some ear infections are caused by a virus and do not need an antibiotic — they clear up on their own.
How does my child catch an ear infection?
Ear infections themselves are not contagious. If your child is around someone who has recently been diagnosed with an ear infection, they are not at risk of catching it. However, the virus that led to the ear infection is highly contagious. Be sure to have your child wash their hands frequently and avoid anyone with active cold symptoms.
Should my child be around someone who has an ear infection?
Often, ear infections occur after cold symptoms have been around for several days and after the fluid has been sitting in the middle ear for a while. So most likely, the child is no longer contagious by the time they have an ear infection, and it’s safe for your child to be around him or her.