Symptoms of an Ear Infection and Treatment Options

Find out if your child’s earache will go away on its own or whether you need to see a doctor. 

While ear infections are more common in children, this doesn’t mean that adults can’t still develop them, as well. Of course, it isn’t always as easy as you might think to determine whether or not you have an ear infection. While our Chesterfield, MO, otolaryngologist, Dr. Paul Burk, can treat ear infections, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and know whether or not you should visit a doctor for care.

There are three different types of ear infections:

  • Acute otitis media: a painful infection that occurs when the middle ear (the area behind the eardrum) becomes inflamed
  • Otitis media with effusion: when fluid builds up in the middle ear (this often occurs after a respiratory infection such as a cold)
  • Otitis externa (or “Swimmer’s ear”): usually caused by a bacterial infection, otitis externa causes redness and swelling within the ear canal

The most common symptoms and signs of an ear infection are:

  • Earache
  • Fever
  • Muffled hearing or loss of hearing
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Headache
  • Fullness or pressure in the ear
  • Drainage from the ear

In young children who may not be able to tell you that they are experiencing an earache, their symptoms may include:

  • Increased fussiness
  • Crying when lying down
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fever
  • Reduced appetite
  • Not responding to certain sounds
  • Increased clinginess
  • Pulling or tugging at the ears

You may be able to just let the ear infection run its course

An ear infection is often the result of a bacterial or viral infection, causing buildup and inflammation of the middle ear. In many cases, you may notice your symptoms improving after a couple of days and some ear infections will go away on their own without treatment in about 1-2 weeks.

Sometimes doctors use a wait-and-see approach, particularly in children between the ages of 6 months to two years. When you give us a call, we will determine whether they will require antibiotics or not based on their age, the severity of their symptoms, and whether or not they have a fever.

Sometimes your ear infection may require medical treatment

While minor ear infections may go away on their own, it’s important to see your Chesterfield, MO, area ENT doctor if,

  • You are experiencing severe pain
  • You suddenly cannot hear out of the affected ear
  • You suspect that your infant under 6 months old has an ear infection
  • You suspect that your child has an ear infection and it’s accompanied by a high fever
  • There is swelling or a lump that develops under or behind the ear

Our office in Chesterfield, MO, Dr. Burk and his team provide quality ear, nose and throat care to patients of all ages. If you or your child is dealing with the symptoms of an ear infection, give us a call today at (314) 477-4995.

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