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Symptoms Of An Ear Infection And Treatment Options

What is an Ear infection?

An ear infection is an inflammation of the inner, middle, or outer ear, often with infection. Most common among children. It can be caused by bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae or viruses that cause cold, and flu.

What are the different types of ear infections?

There are 3 types of ear infections.

  1. Otitis Media: In which the middle ear is infected, swollen, and fluid is filled behind the eardrum. It can be Acute, Chronic, and with effusion.
  2. Otitis Externa: It is an infection of the outer ear canal in which water remains in the ear after swimming. It is also known as Swimmer’s Ear.
  3. Labyrinthitis: It is an infection of the inner ear or the nerves that connect the inner ear to the brain.

What are the classic signs and symptoms of an ear infection?

The onset of signs and symptoms of ear infection is usually rapid.

  • ear pain
  • fever
  • difficulty sleeping
  • fussiness
  • headache
  • tinnitus and feeling like the ear is blocked.

If it happens to children or infants, then they don’t stop crying.

When should I go see an ENT doctor?

Signs and symptoms of an ear infection can indicate several conditions. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. If symptoms of infection are worsening or it lasts for more than 2-3 days, if loss of hearing, notice pus, discharge, or fluid coming from ear or if A fever of 102.2°F (39°C) or higher then contact the doctor.

How is an ear infection treated?

The treatment varies based on the type of infection. In most cases, the doctor suggests watching or waiting to see if the child needs antibiotics.

  • If bacterial infection then antibiotics by mouth. ear drop can also be used (mostly amoxicillin and ciprodex)
  • For pain management OTC pain killers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen can be used.
  • If caused by viral infection, then antiviral medications can be used to treat a primary infection like colds and flu.
  • Some home remedies like a cool or warm compress, heating pad, and sleeping upright can help relieve some pain.

Niyati Patel, PharmD Candidate 2023


Ear infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published July 1, 2021. Accessed November 15, 2022.

AP; AHWSC. Acute otitis media. Postgraduate medicine.  Accessed November 15, 2022.

Middle ear infection (otitis media). NHS inform. Accessed November 15, 2022.

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