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Ear infections frequently develop during or shortly after another infection, such as a cold or sore throat. They may also happen during nasal allergy symptoms.

The Ear
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Symptoms include:

  • Ear pain (Note: Children who can talk may tell you that their ear hurts. Babies may tug or rub at the ear or face or become irritable.)
  • Fever
  • Hearing loss, which resolves with appropriate treatment
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty feeding
  • Drainage from the ear (This may appear as blood, clearish fluid, pus, or as a dry crust on the outer portion of the ear after sleeping.)
  • Difficulty with balance, frequent falling, sensations of lightheadedness
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Chills

Some children with ear infection, particularly chronic otitis, have no symptoms. Their condition may be discovered on examination for some other problem.

Revision Information

  • Acute otitis media. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 17, 2015. Accessed September 21, 2015.

  • Ear infections in children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/earinfections.aspx. Published March 2013. Accessed September 21, 2015.

  • Middle ear infections. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Middle-Ear-Infections.aspx. Updated August 20, 2015. Accessed September 21, 2015.