Ear pain can make you feel miserable, but it's not always easy to tell if your symptoms are actually caused by an infection. These signs and symptoms typically occur when you have an ear infection.
What are common ear infection signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of ear infections include:
- Ear Pain: Pain may be continuous or may come and go.
- Fever: The infection can cause a fever of 101 or 102F, but not everyone who gets an ear infection doesn't develop a fever.
- Difficulty Hearing: A build up of mucus in the inner ear can make it harder to hear clearly.
- Drainage: If the eardrum bursts or perforates, mucus will begin to drain from the ears.
Ear infections are more common in children than adults. The eustachian tubes, the passageways that connect the ears to the throat, are smaller and more horizontal in children, making it easier for bacteria and viruses to reach the ears. It's not always easy to tell if your baby or young child has an ear infection, although signs of infection tend to start after a cold. In addition to the signs mentioned above, these signs can indicate that there is an infection:
- Pulling on ears
- Irritability of fussiness
- Frequent waking during the night
- Reluctance to lie flat
- Loss of appetite due to pain when chewing or swallowing
How are ear infections treated?
Although antibiotics were once commonly prescribed for ear infections, doctors today use a "wait and see" approach before recommending them. In many cases, ear infections get better on their own without any treatment. If antibiotics are prescribed too frequently, you may become resistant to them.
If you or your child continue to have symptoms after two or three days, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic and drops to relieve ear pain. Infections can be more serious in babies and young children. Don't wait two or three days to call your doctor if your child has a fever of 101 or higher, won't stop crying, is in severe pain or if you notice drainage from the ears.
Do you think you or your child may have an ear infection? Your ear, nose and throat doctor can offer recommendations and treatments to help you feel better.