Understanding Ear Infection: Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on May 02, 2023
1 min read

The symptoms of an ear infection in adults are:

  • Earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain)
  • A sharp stabbing pain with immediate warm drainage from the ear canal
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Nausea
  • Muffled hearing
  • Ear drainage

In children, the symptoms are:

  • Tugging at the ear
  • Poor sleep
  • Fever
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Ear drainage
  • Diminished appetite
  • Crying at night when lying down


  • Body temperature rises above 100.4 degrees; a fever signals the possibility of a more serious infection (especially in infants and young children)
  • You or your child frequently develops ear infections; repeated bouts with the disorder can lead to hearing loss or more serious infections
  • You or your child has hearing problems; the infection may be the cause
  • You suspect that your young child has an ear infection


Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • Your child develops a stiff neck
  • Your child is very lethargic, responds poorly, or is inconsolable