Earache or Ear Infection?

ear infection

It’s not uncommon for kids and adults to experience an earache with a cold virus. But sometimes the ache may be a sign of an ear infection.

Usually earaches caused by a cold virus disappear with use of over-the-counter cold medications. If it becomes painful or continues for several days, contact the doctor’s office for an evaluation and treatment, as the earache may be accompanied by an infection.

The ability to hear can be damaged by an infection that is not treated promptly. So it’s important to know the signs of an ear infection:

  • High fever – Temperatures from an ear infection can reach up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Difficulty hearing – If fluids build up inside the ear, the eardrum may not be able to communicate sounds to the brain
  • Loss of hearing – Fluid inside the ear can cause temporary hearing loss, but if left untreated can lead to permanent hearing loss
  • Drainage – Excessive fluid inside the ear may put pressure on the eardrum and cause it to rupture, causing increased pain and visible drainage in the form of a white, yellow, brown or bloody fluid
  • Problems sleeping – While lying down, the fluid in the ear may shift and cause pain, making it difficult to sleep comfortably
  • Loss of appetite –When fluids build up inside the ear, swallowing beverages or food may lead to pressure changes inside the ear and cause pain

An untreated ear infection can lead to hearing loss or several other medical concerns, including inner ear infection, eardrum scarring, speech development problems, facial paralysis, meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord), or mastoiditis (infection of the skull behind the ear).

To learn more about treating earaches and ear infections, check out these articles:

Treat winter ailments natural way

Your toddler’s ear ache may not be an infection