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Is an Ear Infection Contagious?

By Laura Britton ; Updated July 27, 2017

Ear infections are common ailments, especially in children. They cause pain and fever, but many parents aren’t sure whether it is safe to send their child to school if she has ear infection because of the risk of infecting other children.


An ear infection is the body’s reaction to germs or a virus moving into the ear's membranes and canals, according to The body then fights off these invaders by increasing its temperature through fever and sending white blood cells to fight it, which creates pus.

Middle Ear

The middle-ear infection is the most common type. This involves an infection settling into the eustachian tube or into the air pocket behind the eardrum.

Is It Contagious?

According to, your child can’t pass along her ear infection to another child. She can, however, pass along her cold, which could cause an ear infection if the virus settles into that child’s middle ear.


Help your child learn not to pass along germs by teaching her good hand-washing procedures and teaching her to cover her mouth with her arm (not her hand) when she sneezes and coughs. During cold and flu season, use hand sanitizer often. also recommends avoiding touching your eyes and nose and staying away from places where people smoke cigarettes, as these irritants are common causes of ear infections.

Doctor's Care

A viral infection will clear up on its own with rest and clear liquids. A doctor will prescribe an antibiotic for a bacterial ear infection. Your child might need a pain reliever for each types of ear infection.

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