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Symptoms, causes, and treatments for Ear Infections

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Ear Infection

Symptoms of an Ear Infection

Kids are highly susceptible to ear infections, which result from blockages or fluid buildup in the Eustachian tubes. Docs call the two types of ear infections acute otitis media and otitis media with effusion.

Ear infection symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Drainage from the ear canal
  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Hearing difficulties
  • Poor sleep
  • Sinus congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Tinnitus
  • Tugging of the ears
  • Vertigo
  • Vomiting

Causes of an Ear Infection

Generally, kids have smaller Eustachian tubes that contribute to their higher infection rate than adults. Likewise, developing immune systems put infants at risk when introduced to illness-prone environments like daycare, at least during their first year. Adults can get ear infections too, but kids are more susceptible to an infection.

Acute otitis media is caused by a variety of bacteria entering the ear canal and creating an infection. It’s the most common ear infection, and may resolve itself.

Otitis media with effusion develops from sources such as smoking parents or a shorter period of breastfeeding.

Other possible causes of an ear infection:

  • Allergies
  • Colds
  • Sinus infections
  • Strep throat
  • Tobacco smoke

Should I Be Worried?

Parents will always worry, so that’s natural. However, you may want to worry about not sleeping much: kids with ear infections cry...a lot.

Many ear infections resolve themselves without antibiotics. That’s the good news. But don’t wait to schedule a visit if you or your child's symptoms are bothersome or last for more than a few days, or if you’re not sure whether you have an ear infection or a sinus infection.

Any children with a fever over 102°F should see a doctor immediately. Also, you should seek treatment for an infant under six months with fever or ear infection symptoms.

Recurring infections can be serious, even if your child’s last few ear infections cleared up without treatment. Repeated infections may permanently damage their hearing.

Schedule an ear infection visit online or from our iOS app today.

Find a neighborhood ZOOM+Care clinic near you in Portland, Seattle, Salem, or Vancouver.

Additional DIY Articles

Sore Throat; Sinus Infection; UTI; Cough; Cold; Bladder Infection; Flu; Rash; STI; Stomach Pain; Earwax Buildup; Bronchitis; Foot Pain; Yeast Infection; Strep Throat; Eye Infection; Fever; Back Pain; Asthma; Neck Pain; Allergies; Insect Bites and Stings; Headache; Diarrhea; Anxiety

Ear Infection Prevention Tips

Consider these tips to help reduce your child's chances of contracting an ear infection:

  • Don't smoke around baby. Tobacco smoke can cause ear infections in children.
  • Breast-feed. The helpful antibodies in your breast milk can prevent infections, so children should be breast-fed for at least six months.
  • Bottle feed babies upright. If you're not breast-feeding, make sure to keep your baby upright while feeding. Inner-ear problems, which can cause an ear infection, may occur if your baby eats while lying down.