Medically referred to as acute otitis media, ear infections are usually caused by bacteria or viruses that affect the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum where vibrating bones facilitate hearing. Depending on the cause and severity, ear infections may or may not require medical treatment. Ear infections for children should not be taken lightly, however, as prolonged lack of treatment may cause serious complications.
The most distinctive symptom of an ear infection is mild to moderate pain in the ear. The sensation may be continuous or sporadic, dull and throbbing, or sharp and shooting. Lying down often exacerbates the discomfort, as does pressure on the affected side, such as laying the head on a pillow. Ear infection pain can interrupt sleep, though this is seen more often in children than adults.
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