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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.


Acute otitis media. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated August 17, 2015. Accessed September 21, 2015.

Ear infections in children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: Published March 2013. Accessed September 21, 2015.

Middle ear infections. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: Updated August 20, 2015. Accessed September 21, 2015.

Last reviewed September 2015 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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