10+ Signs Of An Ear Infection

By Carole 4 months ago

1. Ear pain or discomfort which can worsen

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This pain can vary from a mild sensation of pressure to severe, stabbing pain. It may worsen with certain activities like lying down, chewing, or pulling on the earlobe. The nature of the pain can vary from sharp, throbbing, to a dull ache, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the infection.

2. Difficulty hearing or temporary hearing loss

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Fluid accumulation in the middle ear can dampen sound transmission, leading to temporary hearing impairment. In some cases, the hearing loss can be significant and may affect the ability to understand speech or hear sounds clearly.  It can creep up without you realising.

3. Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear

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The sensation of fullness or pressure in the ear is often caused by the build up of fluid and inflammation in the middle ear cavity. It can be similar to the sensation experienced during changes in altitude, such as when flying in an airplane or driving through mountains.

4. Drainage of fluid could cause a perforation of the ear

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The presence of fluid drainage from the ear canal, known as otorrhea, can indicate a perforation of the eardrum or a more severe infection. The discharge may vary in color and consistency, ranging from clear or yellow to bloody, depending on the underlying cause of the infection.

5. Fever caused by bacteria

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Ear infections, particularly those caused by bacteria, can trigger the body's immune response, leading to fever. A high temperature, accompanied by chills, can indicate a more serious infection that may require medical intervention, such as antibiotic treatment.

6. Irritability because of the ear ache

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Infants and young children may exhibit increased irritability due to discomfort or pain associated with an ear infection. They may become more fussy, cry more frequently, and have difficulty being comforted or calmed down.  They get frustrated because they can't express themselves.

7. Trouble sleeping or staying asleep

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Ear pain and discomfort can disrupt sleep patterns, making it challenging to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night, waking up several times due to the pain.  Children, in particular, may experience disrupted sleep, leading to increased irritability and fatigue during the day.

8. Balance problems or dizziness

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Infections of the inner ear, such as labyrinthitis, can affect balance and spatial orientation, leading to sensations of dizziness or vertigo. Individuals may feel unsteady on their feet and may experience a spinning sensation, especially when changing positions.  They can also feel nauseous.

9. Nausea or vomiting from vertigo

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Severe dizziness or vertigo associated with inner ear infections can trigger nausea and vomiting, particularly when moving the head or changing positions. These symptoms can be debilitating and may require medical evaluation and treatment.  One ear is usually worse than the other.

10. Not feeling hungry

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Pain and discomfort from an ear infection can lead to a decreased appetite, resulting in reduced food intake and potential weight loss, especially in children. They may show less interest in eating or drinking than usual.  If this is the case, make sure they stay hydrated.

11. Swelling or redness around the ear

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External ear infections, such as otitis externa or swimmer's ear, can cause inflammation and swelling of the outer ear canal. The skin around the ear may appear red, swollen, and tender to the touch.  This type of infection is obviously more noticeable than an inner ear issue.

12. Persistent crying or fussiness in young kids

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Babies and young children may exhibit persistent crying or fussiness, which can be a sign of discomfort or pain associated with an ear infection. They may also show changes in behavior, such as increased clinginess or irritability.  They find it very difficult to settle.

13. Difficulty concentrating

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Children with ear infections may struggle to concentrate or pay attention, particularly in environments with background noise or distractions. They may become easily distracted and have difficulty following instructions or completing tasks.  Instructions to them become fuzzy in their mind.

14. Rubbing or pulling at the affected ear

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Infants and young children may instinctively rub or pull at their ears in an attempt to relieve pain or discomfort. This behavior can indicate that the ear is causing discomfort and may require further evaluation by a healthcare professional.  Parents should be aware of this.

15. Referred pain causing a headache

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Ear infections can cause referred pain, leading to headaches that may be localized around the affected ear or felt more diffusely throughout the head. The headache may worsen with changes in head position or activity level.  Jaw pain is also common as a result.

16. Fluid accumulation behind the eardrum

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Inflammation and fluid build up in the middle ear can lead to decreased hearing and a sensation of fullness or pressure. This can affect the ability to perceive sounds clearly and may lead to discomfort or a feeling of imbalance.  Thus, in turn, can make the sufferer feel sickly.

17. Tugging at the ear or holding the ear in an unusual position

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Children may exhibit behaviors such as tugging at their ears or holding them in an unusual position, indicating discomfort or pain associated with an ear infection. Parents should pay attention to these signs and seek medical attention if they persist or worsen over time.

18. Suffering with a sore throat or cough

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Ear infections can sometimes occur secondary to upper respiratory infections, such as colds or sinus infections. Sore throat and cough may accompany these infections, indicating the presence of a viral or bacterial infection affecting the ear, nose, and throat.

19. Experiencing ear popping or crackling sounds

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Changes in pressure within the middle ear, caused by inflammation or fluid build up, can result in popping or crackling sounds during activities such as swallowing, yawning, or chewing. These sounds may be accompanied by a sensation of fullness or discomfort in the ear.

20. Feeling of imbalance or vertigo

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Inner ear infections can disrupt the body's sense of balance, leading to feelings of dizziness, spinning sensations, or a loss of equilibrium. These symptoms can be particularly distressing and may worsen with sudden movements or changes in position.

21. Difficulty with speech and language development

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In young children, persistent ear infections can hinder the development of speech and language skills. Hearing loss, resulting from excess fluid and inflammation in the middle ear, can impair the ability to hear and process sounds essential for language acquisition.

22. Changes in the appearance of the ear canal

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In cases of external ear infections, the ear canal may appear swollen, red, and inflamed. There may be visible discharge or drainage from the ear, along with tenderness or pain upon touching the affected area.  Trying to wear earrings is definitely not advisable.

23. Fatigue and feeling lethargic

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The discomfort and pain associated with ear infections can lead to feelings of fatigue and lethargy, affecting both adults and children. Individuals may experience a general sense of tiredness and a reduced ability to engage in daily activities.  They just want to flop on the sofa.

24. A foul odor coming from the ear

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Discharge from the ear due to infection may emit an embarrassing, foul odor, indicating the presence of bacteria or other pathogens. The odor can be particularly noticeable in cases of severe infection or when there is a perforation of the eardrum.  This is obviously a serious condition.

25. Persistent itching or irritation

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External ear infections, such as otitis externa, can cause persistent itching and irritation in the ear canal. Patients may feel the need to scratch or rub the affected area, which can exacerbate inflammation and discomfort.  Even when they scratch, the itch doesn't go away.

26. Changes in ear sensation

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Some sufferers may experience altered sensations in the ear, such as a feeling of heaviness or numbness. These sensations can be indicative of underlying inflammation or pressure changes within the ear canal.  It's really important to seek medical advice in this situation.

27. Difficulty maintaining your balance

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Inner ear infections can disrupt the vestibular system, leading to difficulties in maintaining balance and coordination. Patients may feel unsteady on their feet or experience episodes of stumbling or falling.  This can be quite dangerous for the elderly.

28. Increased sensitivity to sound

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Individuals with ear infections may become more sensitive to loud noises or sudden sounds. This heightened sensitivity, known as hyperacusis, can exacerbate discomfort and make it challenging to tolerate everyday auditory stimuli.  It can make them feel distressed.

29. You have jaw pain

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Ear pain stemming from middle ear infections can radiate to the jaw and surrounding facial structures. Patients may experience discomfort when chewing, talking, or moving the jaw, leading to difficulties with eating and oral hygiene.  This stops them wanting to eat certain foods.

30. Changes in ear discharge color and consistency

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The color and consistency of ear discharge can provide valuable information about the underlying cause of the infection. Purulent (pus-like) discharge may indicate a bacterial infection, while clear or serous discharge may suggest a viral disease or condition.

31. Difficulty equalizing ear pressure

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Individuals may experience difficulties equalizing pressure in the middle ear, particularly during changes in altitude or when flying in an airplane. This inability to equalize pressure can result in discomfort, pain, and a sensation of fullness in the ear.

32. Symptoms worsen over time

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Without prompt medical intervention, ear infections can worsen over time, leading to more severe symptoms and potential complications. It is essential to monitor symptoms closely and seek medical attention if there is a progressive deterioration in the person's condition.

33. Kids may refuse to lie on the affected side

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Children and adults with ear infections may exhibit a reluctance or refusal to lie down on the side of the affected ear. This position can exacerbate pain and discomfort, making it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position.  Sleep can then be disrupted.

34. Difficulty localizing sound

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Hearing impairment resulting from ear infections can impair the ability to localize sounds accurately. Individuals may have difficulty determining the direction from which sounds originate, leading to a sense of auditory disorientation.  This can be very upsetting for them.

35. Changes in ear sensitivity to touch

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The ear may become more sensitive to touch or manipulation during an infection. Gentle palpation of the external ear and surrounding tissues may elicit pain or tenderness, indicating underlying inflammation or injury.  You may feel as if pressure is building up in the ear.

36. Presence of other systemic symptoms

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In addition to local ear-related symptoms, people with ear infections may experience systemic symptoms such as fatigue, malaise, and body aches. These symptoms can result from the body's immune response to the underlying infection and may indicate the need for medical evaluation and treatment.

37. Changes in ear temperature

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In some cases, the affected ear may feel warm to the touch due to inflammation and increased blood flow to the area. This localized increase in temperature can be a sign of active infection and should prompt further evaluation by a healthcare professional.

38. A possible change in sense of taste

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In rare cases, individuals with severe ear infections may experience changes in their sense of taste. This alteration in taste perception can result from disruptions in the sensory pathways that connect the ear, nose, and throat, leading to a diminished ability to detect and appreciate flavors.

39. Compromised immune function

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Chronic or recurrent ear infections can weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infections and may increase susceptibility to other illnesses. Individuals with compromised immune function may experience more frequent and severe episodes of ear infections, requiring comprehensive medical management and preventive measures.

40. What to do if you think you have an ear infection - see a doctor

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It's crucial to seek medical attention promptly if you suspect you have an ear infection. A healthcare provider can accurately diagnose the type and severity of the infection and recommend appropriate treatment. Delaying medical care can lead to complications and prolonged discomfort.

41. Rest and recuperate

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Rest is essential for allowing your body to focus its energy on fighting off the infection. Avoiding strenuous activities can prevent fatigue and help your immune system function optimally during the healing process.  You have to be patient as it may take a little time to feel better.

42. Apply a warm compress to the ear

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You may find that a warm compress or heating pad applied to the affected ear can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Ensure the compress is not too hot to avoid burning the ear, and limit the application to short intervals to prevent skin irritation.

43. Use over-the counter pain relief

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Non-prescription pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help manage ear pain and reduce fever associated with the infection. Follow the recommended dosage instructions and consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns or existing health conditions.

44. Use eardrops

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If your doctor prescribes ear drops or recommends over-the-counter drops, use them as directed. These drops can help alleviate discomfort and aid in the treatment of the infection by targeting the affected area directly. Follow the instructions carefully to ensure safe and effective use.

45. Avoid inserting anything into the affected ear

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Refrain from inserting cotton swabs, fingers, or any objects into your ear canal to avoid pushing wax deeper or causing injury to the delicate structures of the ear. Attempting to clean the ear canal yourself can worsen the infection and lead to complications such as a perforated eardrum.

46. Stay well hydrated

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Drinking plenty of fluids such as water, herbal tea, and clear broth can help keep mucus thin and promote drainage from the ears and nasal passages. Adequate hydration supports the body's natural defenses and can help alleviate congestion and discomfort associated with ear infections.

47. Keep your head elevated when sleeping

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Sleeping with your head elevated can help reduce pressure and discomfort in the affected ear. Using an extra pillow or sleeping in a slightly upright position can promote drainage and relieve congestion, making it easier to rest and sleep more comfortably.

48. Avoid smoking and second hand smoke

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Tobacco smoke can really irritate the lining of the respiratory tract and it can easily exacerbate ear infection symptoms. If you smoke, please consider quitting, and avoid exposure to second hand smoke to reduce inflammation and promote the healing process.

49. Follow your doctor's advice

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It's essential to follow the treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare provider diligently. This may include taking antibiotics, using ear drops, or other medications as directed. Completing the entire course of antibiotics, even if symptoms improve, is crucial to ensure the infection is fully eradicated and prevent recurrence.

50. Monitor your symptoms closely

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Keep track of your symptoms and report any changes or worsening of symptoms to your healthcare provider. If you experience severe pain, sudden hearing loss, discharge from the ear, or other concerning symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Prompt intervention can prevent complications and facilitate a faster recovery.

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