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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

Could Your Child Have an Ear Infection?

Even newbie parents can spot diaper rash or a runny nose with no problem, but ear infections may come with only a whisper of symptoms. Yet three-quarters of children will get one by age 3. "An ear infection happens when you get infected fluid or pus behind the eardrum," says Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP. She is a pediatrician in Atlanta and editor of American Academy of Pediatrics Baby & Child Health. The most common cause? Colds. When secretions get trapped in the middle ear, viruses or bacteria...

Read the Could Your Child Have an Ear Infection? 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.

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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