Ear Infections Center

Ear Infection Symptoms

The most common symptom of an ear infection is painful ear ache. The ear is painful and hearing may be decreased. Pain from the ear itself may result from a pressure gradient between the middle ear and outside air, from local inflammation, or both. Older children are usually able to tell parents that their ear hurts or that they cannot hear well, but what signs can you look for in children who have not begun talking yet?

Ear infection symptoms for children
It is not always easy to know if your child has an ear infection. Sometimes you have to watch carefully. If your child is not old enough to say, "My ear hurts!" you need to look for other signals that there is a problem. Infants and children who cannot communicate verbally, may cry and pull at the ears. Signs of an ear infection include:

  • balance difficulties
  • cough
  • crying more than usual
  • diarrhea
  • ear drainage (fluid)
  • fever
  • hearing problems
  • lack of response to quiet sounds
  • runny nose
  • trouble sleeping
  • tugging at ears
  • vomiting

Otitis media not only causes severe pain, but may result in serious complications if it is not treated. An untreated infection can travel from the middle ear to the nearby parts of the head, including the brain. Although the hearing loss is usually temporary, untreated ear infections can lead to permanent hearing impairment. Children who experience early hearing impairment from frequent ear infections or chronic fluid in the ear, are likely to develop speech and language disabilities.

When to seek help
The best thing you can do to know signs of ear infection in children is to pay attention to your child. Know the warning signs of ear infections, and be on the lookout if your child gets a cold. If you think your child has an ear infection, call the doctor. Also, call your doctor if you are experiencing any type of ear drainage, hearing loss, and/or sore throat. To learn more about how doctors diagnose ear ache and ear pain, continue reading. Our next section on Diagnosing Ear Infection covers causes of ear infections here.

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