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Ear Infection (Otitis Media)

May be bacterial or viral.

This is intended as a general guide. Consult a health care provider for diagnosis and for recommendations or advice.

How it Spreads

Usually follows a cold (viral upper respiratory infection).

Sometimes germs travel from the throat to the ear through a damaged Eustachian tube (connects the ear to the throat).

How to Recognize

If related to a cold, may have runny nose, cough, sneezing, or fever.

Complaints of painful ear, tugging on the ear, irritability (especially infants), trouble sleeping, and trouble hearing quiet sounds.

When it is Contagious

Not usually contagious, however if fluid is draining from the ear it may contain germs.

Always wash hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of germs.

When to Report/Exclude

No exclusion required if well enough to participate in regular activities.

May require antibiotic treatment.


Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Canadian Pediatric Society

MOHLTC Infectious Diseases Protocol 2022