Ear Infection Specialist

Christina M. McAlpin, MD

Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor located in Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Earaches are a common condition in babies and children, but adults get them, too. If you or your child have ear pain, ear fluid, or other symptoms of an ear infection, find relief with expert ENT specialist Christina M. McAlpin, MD. Contact Dr. McAlpin’s Los Angeles, California, office by phone or use the easy online form to schedule an appointment.

Ear Infection Q&A

by Christina M. McAlpin, MD

What is an ear infection?

An ear infection, otherwise known as acute otitis media, is caused by the presence of bacteria or viruses in the middle ear. The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum that houses the small bones that vibrate with sound waves.

While adults get ear infections, too, children are more susceptible because the tubes that drain fluid from the middle ear are not fully developed. A majority of children suffer at least one ear infection before their third birthday. Children are also more likely to develop chronic ear infections.

What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

Some symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • Ear pain, especially when reclining
  • Dizziness or trouble with balance
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fluid draining from ear


Infants and young children who are preverbal may not be able to tell you that their ears hurt. Some behaviors that may indicate an ear infection include:

  • Clingy, fussy, or needy behavior
  • Tugging, rubbing, or pulling their ear
  • Crankiness and crying more than normal
  • Not responding to sounds or vocal commands
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Stumbling, losing balance


If symptoms last more than a day, contact ENT specialist Dr. McAlpin. Call her right away if you or your child have:

  • Fluid, pus, or blood draining from ear
  • Severe pain
  • Sleeplessness after a cold or upper-respiratory infection

How are acute ear infections treated?

Most ear infections are treated on a watch-and-wait basis. Dr. McAlpin administers antibiotics if the infection is caused by bacteria (rather than a virus) and your infant is under six months old, or if the infection has lasted in older children or adults for more than two days. You can manage pain with over-the-counter painkillers and warm compresses.

How are chronic ear infections treated?

If your child has three ear infections in a six-month period or four ear infections in a year, Dr. McAlpin may recommend ear tubes to drain the ear. Dr. McAlpin places the ear tube as an in-office surgical procedure. Most ear tubes fall out on their own after about six to 18 months.


When you or your child have the symptoms of an ear infection, contact ENT specialist Christina M. McAlpin, MD, for relief. Call or use the online form to schedule an appointment.