Understanding Ear Infection -- Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on April 03, 2021

What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

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


Call Your Doctor About an Ear Infection If:

  • 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
WebMD Medical Reference


American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.
Academy of American Family Physicians.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

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