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Ear infections are amongst the most common ailments affecting the ear. An ear infection can occur in any part of the ear, but it mostly affects the middle ear, right behind the eardrum. Ear infections are notorious for causing pain and irritation in the affected areas, which may become highly painful due to the swelling and buildup of fluid - in some cases, symptoms can become severe. It's important to spot the signs and symptoms of ear infection as to treat them early on.

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Discomfort

The most noticeable sign of an impending ear infection is pain and discomfort caused by the irritation and swelling of the ear. As swelling increases, you may experience different degrees of pain. You can also experience different sensations, including pressure and itchiness. As you use the muscles of the mouth and head, you may experience pain that radiates from the ear towards the jaw or other parts of the head. Pain can be worse at night, and moving can also aggravate symptoms. In the short-term, over the counter pain medication may help ease the pain.

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Difficulty Sleeping

It's no surprise that the constant, nagging pain caused by an ear infection can limit your ability to sleep. To make matters worse, ear infections can cause a ringing sound to appear in the ear, furthermore impeding a good night's sleep. Symptoms of ear infection can also worsen while lying down, which is highly inconvenient bearing in mind that we spend a significant portion of our time in bed or otherwise immobile. If you experience other symptoms at night, including fever and restlessness, you may have an ear infection. To help you get some sleep, consider taking over the counter pain medication and contact your doctor.

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Swelling

Another important symptom that is closely associated with an ear infection is swelling of the ear. Swelling is caused by high amounts of pressure in the ear, which causes a feeling of discomfort that is noticeable in and around the ear. As swelling increases, you may perceive a hot sensation around the ear; this may also indicate that you are suffering from an ear infection. Regarding this last point, heat can cause redness to appear due to irritation of the skin. Don't attempt to wash the inside of the ear, as this may further exacerbate symptoms.

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Irritation

As mentioned previously, one of the most common symptoms of an ear infection is irritation of the ear. The buildup of bacteria in the ear can cause the skin to become red and highly sensible. You may feel a sudden urge to scratch the ear, but you should avoid contact with the skin at all costs, as this may cause bleeding and worsening of the infection. Moreover, you may experience a feeling of fullness in the ear. This is due to the swelling of the ear canal, and may further tempt you to scratch the inside of the ear.

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Fever

It is not unusual to experience a fever during an ear infection. As with other viral and bacterial infections, the presence of foreign bacteria in the body may trigger a fever. This is the body's natural way of killing harmful bacteria, thus helping you to get better. Fevers aren't anything to worry about unless they reach temperatures of over 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If you experience fever as well as vomiting, diarrhea, or severe pain, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The best way to treat a low fever is staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest.

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Dizziness

Dizziness is one symptom that is often reported by people who develop an ear infection. It can occur because the ear is where the body's balance is controlled. If the ear becomes inflamed or highly irritated, this may affect your body's ability to balance itself. Moreover, you may experience disorientation or confusion as a result. If the infection is left untreated, swelling may increase to significant levels, blocking your ability to hear. It's important to seek medical attention as soon as you notice signs of ear infection. Early treatment improves the likelihood of a fast recovery.

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A headache

Ear infections can cause symptoms of not only the ear but also the head. That's why one of the most characteristic signs of an ear infection is a headache. Headaches develop when the ears become swollen, creating a throbbing sensation that can be experienced in different parts of the head. Throbbing may also be felt inside the ear canal, which can also cause pain to occur. As fluid and bacteria build up develops, pain and stiffness can be felt across the neck. The muscles of the shoulder can also be affected.

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Discharge

Infections that affect the outer layers of the skin can often produce a discharge, indicating the presence of bacterial and fluidal build up. It's no different with ear infections; as the condition progresses, you may notice a yellowish to beige secretion coming out of the ear. While earwax is dry and crumbly, discharge is runnier, and it may have specs of blood in it. Moreover, and depending on the severity of the infection, there may be a pungent odor radiating from the discharge. You should wipe off any discharge from the outer part of the ear to prevent the spread of bacteria.

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Loss of Appetite

While your body and immune system try to fight off an ear infection, you may notice your appetite dwindling. This is because the body needs all the energy it can get to deal with the ongoing trouble caused by the infection; moreover, if the ear infection is left untreated, you may develop a fever, which can also make you feel less hungry than usual. The pain and irritation caused by an ear infection may also reduce your desire to eat. It's important to drink plenty of water during an ear infection so the body can rapidly overcome the ailment.

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Flu-like Symptoms

Sometimes people with ear infections have difficulty distinguishing their symptoms from those of the flu. That doesn't come as a surprise, taking into account the fact that both conditions cause symptoms such as a headache, pain, and swelling. What's more, an ear infection can even give you a runny nose. It may also cause sinus congestion, further making symptoms appear more flu-like. Just as with the flu, it's important to get plenty of rest. Your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics to help treat the infection, as well as pain medication to help alleviate symptoms.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.