Ear Infection ~ Contagious?

Updated on March 31, 2011
A.F. asks from Albany, CA
9 answers

Ok we took my son to the doctor yesterday for an ear infection. I forgot to ask if he is contagious. He is not and has not run a fever, but his ear is draining. I know that if they are running a fever they are contagious. He has been on antibiotics for 24 hours now. We kept him out of daycare today, but I wasn't sure what to do about tomorrow. I don't know what do to, any suggestions? Is he contagious since it is draining or no since he has no fever and has been on an antibiotic this long? I don't really want to call the pediatrician, because we are working on switching offices as I don't care for their service anyways ~ our OB retired and the office went way downhill since then.

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So What Happened?

Thanks, I just need to clarify. I know that ear infections themselves are not contagious (goodness knows I have one friend I have to preach this too all the time, she wouldn't let my brother hold her daughter one time, because his son had an ear infection the week before). I know that with the fever that they have more going on and they are contagious then. However I wasn't sure about the drainage spreading anything. This is ear infection # 20 at least and tube set number 7 ~ yes he is only 5. The drainage means the tubes are working, but I wasn't sure if the drainage may contain something he couldn't share, because he has NEVER drained like this before ~it is gross and has some blood mixed in. I know when you cough you are getting your mucus on others (if you don't close your mouth) and can spread things that way, so I guess I am asking if that would also apply in this situation? Did I confuse the question more or make it clearer what I was really shooting for? Thanks again, I do appreciate everyone's quick responses.

I called and talked to the day care and they were fine with the situation. We put cotton in his ear this morning and sent some with him in case it needs changed. I love his day care and his teacher and she loves him : ) When he was out the last couple of days she would text to check on him and once when he had surgery some of them sent flowers, so I know he will be taken good care of today. He didn't want to got though, because it was so much fun spending 1/2 the day at mom's office and the other 1/2 at dad's office yesterday, he wanted to do that again today.

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answers from Phoenix on

If he's got bloody drainage out of his ears, he needs to stay home until the drainage has stopped. It's not contagion from the infection that becomes the problem, but the blood that is the issue. I would look at it as an uncoverable sore and he would have to stay home until the drainage stopped. Good luck!

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answers from Phoenix on

Ear infections are not contagious....however, if he had a cold/virus that could be contaigious. Or the ear infection could have been from allergies too.

I would say no, your child is not contaigious at this time since the reason his ear became infected is probably gone.

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answers from Cincinnati on

ear infections are NOT contagious. you are fine to send him back as long as he has been fever free for 24 hours...shoot we found out our daughter had another (I think this is her 17th one now) ear infection, we filled the script and sent her to daycare....afterall she GOT the bug there and she wasnt running a fever...we know her infections because she gets bronculolits and cant breath...(no fevers)

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't think he's contagious. If he needs ear drops or cotton balls in his ears for the drainage, I'd probably call the daycare to make sure they are able to accomedate that.



answers from Dover on

Ear infections are not contagious even if there is fever (barring other symptoms that could be). As for tomorrow, as long as he is acting fine then there is no reason he has to stay home from daycare.

My guess is still that he is not contagious but since it contains blood, the daycare may have an issue. Call them to be sure.



answers from Dallas on

This happened with my son after he had tubes put in and got an infection. It kind of freaked me out to see this draining from his ear. . . . It isn't mucus like from your nose it is the waste product from an infection (like puss) No not contagious nor would most child care facitlities keep him out of classroom for this.
I would let the teacher know (just like with a runny nose) that you'd like the area to stay wiped as clean as possible.
He's good to go!


answers from Minneapolis on

I would make sure your daycare can or will accomodate the drainage. Some homes (who can have the luxury of deciding for themselves...one of the perks of self ownership...we get to make the rules), may not..others, no problem.

Centers are likely to have a more "written in stone" ruling or policy.

For my own home childcare, I still reserve the right to require a child to be out of childcare if they can not function within the group with their illness, regarless of fever, meds, etc. If the drainage was excessive and requiring and over-much amount of my attention to keep it off of things and others, etc..or if the child was really uncomfortable, whiny and just...well, not wanting to function in a group setting, they may need to be out of childcare another day or 2.

All depends around here!

Good luck and I hope you young one feels better soon!



answers from Dayton on

He can go to daycare. My son has had a few ear infections since getting his tubes and always has lots of drainage which is pretty gross but his daycare has never complained and they are pretty picky about sick kids.


answers from Kansas City on

My understanding is that the infection itself can't be passed around. But the virus that lead to the infection can be and already has been. I do believe that most of the time illnesses have run through the daycare by the time 1/3rd of the kids have come down with symptoms. At that point the others will either get sick or not. That's why I take every situation as it comes and decide based on each case if they need to go home or stay home.

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