Ear infections are one of the most common diseases of childhood and can also be one of the most distressing for parents.

Ear infections are most common in children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years old and can be very painful due to inflammation and buildup of fluids in the middle ear. Babies and young children are more susceptible because of their young immune systems and the small size and shape of their eustachian tubes. Many ear infections will resolve on their own and symptoms can be managed with acetaminophen and ibuprofen. However, if your child experiences recurring ear infections, you may want to consider other treatment options such as tubes.

Recurring Ear Infections

When a child’s ear infections occur repeatedly, many parents find themselves at a loss as to what to do. Most ear infections are triggered by upper respiratory infections, allergic reactions to pollens, dust, pets or dairy products and smoking in the home.

If your child has recurring ear infections throughout early childhood, he or she may experience difficulty hearing as well as learning issues and speech delay as a result. Serious ear infections can also cause long-term damage to inner ear hearing. Our ear, nose and throat doctors will get to the root of your child's ear infections and help you determine the best way to manage them to ensure your child will not have long-term repercussions.

Nebraska Medicine Specializes in Ear Tubes

The decision to get tubes can often be difficult for parents considering the age of their child, but in the long run, it can provide many benefits and improve your child’s quality of life. Children who get tubes will have fewer ear infections, less pain and pressure in the ears, are less likely to have high fevers and will have to take fewer oral antibiotics. If you choose not to get tubes, your child may fight with ear infections until he or she is 4 or 5 years old and may experience learning and hearing problems as a result. Our doctors will discuss your options and help you make the right decision for you and your child.

When Your Child Should Receive Ear Tubes:

  • If you child experiences an ear infection and it still has not completely cleared up after three months
  • If your child has experienced six recurrent and acute ear infections within a 6-12 month period
  • If your child is under six months of age and continues to have recurring infections without ever completely recovering from the first

Veterans at Inserting Ear Tubes 

Placing tubes in a child’s ear is about a 10-minute outpatient procedure that requires your child to be put under anesthesia gas by mask induction. Immediately after the procedure, your child will be back in your arms again. The tubes usually remain in your child’s ears for about a year.

Come to Nebraska Medicine for ear-related ailments

Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s Ear is an infection in the outer ear canal, often caused by water trapped in the ear after swimming. The water creates a moist environment for bacteria to grow. The infection can also be caused by putting cotton swabs or other things inside the ear, which can damage the layer of skin lining the ear canal.

Symptoms are usually mild at first, which begins with itching in the ear canal, drainage or mild discomfort, but lead to severe pain, drainage and hearing loss. Swimmer’s Ear is treated by cleaning the affected area and prescription ear drops.


Often caused by repeated middle ear infections, cholesteatoma is a condition where skin grows in the middle ear, behind the ear drum. At first, it often begins as a cyst that sheds layers of old skin, which build up inside the middle ear. Over time, the cholesteatoma can increase in size and destroy the bones of the middle ear, leading to hearing loss. It can also cause problems with balance and the function of facial muscles.

Cholesteatoma can also be caused by poorly functioning Eustachian tube, which is the tube that leads from the back of the nose to the middle ear. Symptoms include fluid draining from the ear, a sense of pressure in the ear or a pain in or behind the ear.

Cholesteatoma will not go away on its own. Surgery is required to remove the cyst.

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Highly Ranked Care

Nebraska Medicine is ranked among the nation’s best. Each year, U.S. News & World Report surveys the nation’s roughly 5,000 hospitals to come up with the year’s list of Best Hospitals.

Just 3 percent of the hospitals analyzed for Best Hospitals earn national ranking in even one specialty. We were ranked nationally in ENT in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals ranking and recognized as a high-performing hospital in ENT in the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. 

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