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Ear Infections - Symptoms

Symptoms of a middle ear infection (acute otitis media) often start 2 to 7 days after the start of a cold or other upper respiratory infection. Symptoms of an ear infection may include:

  • Ear pain (mild to severe). Babies often pull or tug at their ears when they have an earache.
  • Fever.
  • Drainage from the ear that is thick and yellow or bloody. This means the eardrum has probably burst (ruptured). The hole in the eardrum often heals by itself in a few weeks.
  • Loss of appetite, vomiting, and grumpy behavior.
  • Trouble sleeping.

Symptoms of fluid buildup may include:

Recommended Related to Ear Infection

Understanding Swimmer's Ear -- Prevention

These tips may help you avoid getting swimmer's ear: Be careful when cleaning your ears. Most doctors advise against using cotton swabs unless you're using it to clean the outside of the ear. Instead, wipe the outer ear with a clean washcloth. Do not dig into the ear canal, and never use a pointed object. Scratching the skin of the ear canal can let germs get in under the skin and cause infection. Avoid earplugs, if possible. These can irritate the ear canal. After swimming, tilt and shake...

Read the Understanding Swimmer's Ear -- Prevention article > >

  • Popping, ringing, or a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. Children often have trouble describing this feeling. They may rub their ears trying to relieve pressure.
  • Trouble hearing. Children who have problems hearing may seem dreamy or inattentive, or they may appear grumpy or cranky.
  • Balance problems and dizziness.

Some children don't have any symptoms.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 30, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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