Ear Infection

Acute otitis media is the medical term for ear infections. An ear infection may affect anyone, whether they are children or adults. Ear infections usually heal on their own. A pain reliever medicine may be prescribed by the doctor. If the ear infection does not improve or worsens, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Ear infections in children under the age of two typically require the use of an antibiotic.

It is important to consult the doctor to ensure that the ear infection has healed or if you or your kid is experiencing chronic pain or discomfort. With chronic ear infections, repeated infections, and fluid buildup behind the eardrum, hearing impairments and other significant consequences might ensue.

Symptoms of Ear Infection

The symptoms of an ear infection in adults are:

  • Earache
  • Nausea
  • A sharp stabbing pain
  • Muffled hearing
  • Ear drainage
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear

In children, the symptoms are:

  • Tugging at the ear
  • Poor sleep
  • Fever
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Ear drainage
  • No appetite
  • Crying at night when lying down

When to see a doctor?

Consult a doctor right away if:

  • A fever is accompanied by a rise in body temperature above 100.4 degrees which indicates the possibility of a more serious infection, particularly in infants and young children.
  • Ear infections are common in you or your kid; recurrent encounters with the condition can result in hearing loss or more serious infections.
  • You or your kid may be suffering from hearing loss as a result of an infection.
  • A child under the age of six months has ear infection symptoms.
  • The ear discharges fluids or pus.
  • Pain becomes unbearable.
  • Other symptoms may include vomiting, headaches, stiff neck, sleepiness, and loss of balance.


Ear infections are often caused by bacteria in the middle ear, although they can also be caused by viruses. It causes a buildup of fluid in the middle ear spaces. The discomfort is caused by the fluid buildup and inflammation that puts pressure on the eardrum.

Risk Factors

The following are risk factors for ear infections:


Ear infections are more common in infants and young children (between the ages of 6 months and 2 years).


Having a cold increases the likelihood of getting an ear infection.


Allergies induce inflammation (swelling) of the nasal passages and upper respiratory system, which can cause the adenoids to expand. Adenoids that are enlarged can clog the eustachian tube, preventing ear fluids from draining.

Chronic illnesses

People with chronic diseases, particularly those with immune deficiencies and chronic respiratory disorders such as cystic fibrosis and asthma, are more prone to getting ear infections.


Ear infections usually cure completely on their own, although they might recur. After an ear infection, the following rare yet significant consequences may occur:

  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Mastoiditis
  • Hearing loss
  • Meningitis
  • Ruptured eardrum


  • According to research, secondhand smoking increases the risk of ear infections.
  • Allergic reactions can cause inflammation and mucus, which can block the eustachian tube and increase the probability of ear infections.
  • Large adenoids may be the source of constant snoring or mouth breathing. These can aggravate ear infections.
  • For children below 6 months, check the child's vaccines, especially the annual influenza vaccine (flu shot).


A doctor will evaluate the symptoms and check the ears with an otoscope, which has a light and a magnifying lens. Other diagnostic tests include:

Fluid samples

If the infection has progressed, the doctor may take a sample of the fluid within the ear and analyse it to see if specific antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present.

CT scan

The doctor may conduct a CT scan of the head to detect whether the infection has gone beyond your middle ear.

Blood tests

Blood tests can be used to assess immunological function.


This test determines how well the eardrum responds to variations in air pressure in the ear.

Acoustic reflectometry

This test determines how much sound is reflected back from the eardrum, indirectly allowing doctors to estimate the quantity of fluid in the ear.

Hearing test

If you have persistent ear infections, you may require a hearing test.


While most minor ear infections resolve on their own, the following treatments may be helpful:

Home treatment

These treatments are effective in relieving the symptoms of a mild ear infection:

  • Wrap a warm towel across the affected ear.
  • Use over-the-counter (OTC) prescription painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • To ease pain, use over-the-counter or prescription ear drops.
  • Take over-the-counter decongestants such as pseudoephedrine.
  • Sleeping on the affected ear should be avoided.

Medical treatment

Consult a doctor if the condition worsens or does not improve. If the ear infection is bacterial, chronic, and does not seem to be improving, they may prescribe antibiotics. Although, it should be noted that antibiotics are ineffective in treating viral infections.


A myringotomy surgery is an option. A doctor will make a small incision in the eardrum to allow fluids to drain and relieve discomfort during this procedure. The incision will heal in a few days. In situations of swollen adenoids, surgical removal of the adenoids may be recommended.

Dos and Don’ts

In children, ear infections are quite common. A chronic ear infection can last for 6 weeks or more, but most infections are viral and cure completely within 3 days without any medical treatment. When children are exposed to infections from other children, they are more likely to have an ear infection, especially during winter months. Babies who drink from a bottle while lying down are also at risk of infection. These below mentioned Do's and Don'ts can help you reduce the negative side effects of ear infections.

Do’s Don’ts
Use a blow dryer to keep ears dry after water sports Expose your ears to continuous loud noises
See a doctor if you experience sudden hearing loss Smoke
Cover your ears when exposed to loud noises Ignore sudden hearing loss
Use hydrogen peroxide or mineral oil to periodically loosen ear wax Use ear plugs if you have wax problems
Use antibiotics prescribed by doctors Scratch the inside of your ear with a pen or any sharp object

To recover from an Ear Infection, take care of yourself and maintain your immune system while getting proper medical care.

Ear Infection Care at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover, we have the most trusted group of doctors and healthcare specialists who are competent in offering the finest medical treatment to our patients with compassion and care. To treat Ear infections, we take a holistic approach that includes the active participation of healthcare professionals from several departments, each with their area of expertise, to address the disease for comprehensive treatment, recovery, and well-being. Our excellent ENT doctors diagnose and systematically treat the illness leading to successful treatment outcomes.



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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an ear infection?

An ear infection, also known as otitis, is an inflammation or infection of the ear, commonly caused by bacteria or viruses. It can affect different parts of the ear, such as the outer ear (otitis externa), middle ear (otitis media), or inner ear (otitis interna).

2. What are the common symptoms of an ear infection?

Common symptoms of an ear infection may include ear pain, earache, hearing loss, ear drainage, fever, and in some cases, dizziness or vertigo.

3. Are ear infections contagious?

Most ear infections are not contagious, but the underlying cold or respiratory infection that can lead to middle ear infections can be contagious.

4. Can adults get ear infections, or are they primarily a childhood issue?

Ear infections can affect people of all ages, but they are more common in children due to their developing immune systems and smaller Eustachian tubes, which can make them more susceptible.

5. How are ear infections diagnosed?

Ear infections are typically diagnosed through a physical examination by a healthcare provider, including an inspection of the ear using an otoscope. In some cases, additional tests like tympanometry or hearing tests may be performed.

6. What causes ear infections?

Ear infections are often caused by bacteria or viruses, with the most common bacteria being Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. Viral infections, such as the common cold, can also lead to ear infections.

7. Are ear infections painful?

Yes, ear infections can be painful, especially if they involve the middle ear. The pain is often described as a sharp, stabbing sensation in the ear.

8. How are ear infections treated?

Treatment for ear infections depends on their type and severity. Bacterial ear infections are typically treated with antibiotics. Pain relief medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may be recommended to alleviate discomfort.

9. Can ear infections go away on their own without treatment?

Some mild ear infections, particularly those caused by viruses, may resolve on their own. However, it's essential to consult a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate course of action, as untreated ear infections can lead to complications.

10. Are there ways to prevent ear infections?

To reduce the risk of ear infections, practise good hygiene, avoid inserting foreign objects into the ear canal, and manage allergies or respiratory conditions promptly. For infants, consider breastfeeding, as it can help boost their immunity.

11. When should I seek medical attention for an ear infection?

You should seek medical attention if you or your child experiences severe ear pain, high fever, drainage of pus from the ear, hearing loss, dizziness, or if the symptoms do not improve within a few days.