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Ear Infection

Ear Infection

Ear Infection

Also known as acute otitis media, an earache is often the result of a bacterial or viral infection that affects your middle ear - the space behind your eardrum. As this space fills up with fluid and becomes inflamed it can become very painful. Children are more prone to ear infections than adults. Often a doctor will first try to manage the pain while monitoring your condition because your body may be capable of overcoming the ear infection without further treatment. If your condition is severe your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Your ear is a sensitive and vital organ that helps you hear and affects your balance so it is very important to see your doctor if symptoms persist.

Signs and symptoms

In children:

  • Ear pain, especially when lying down
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Acting more irritable than usual
  • Difficulty hearing or responding to sounds
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

In adults:

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Diminished hearing

When to see a doctor

  • Symptoms last for more than a day
  • Ear pain is severe
  • Your infant or toddler is sleepless or irritable after a cold or other upper respiratory infection
  • You observe a discharge of fluid, pus or bloody discharge from the ear
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