A middle ear infection (otitis media) can cause earache, temporary hearing loss, and pus drainage from the ear. It is most common in babies, toddlers, and young children. Learn about causes and treatment. Read more: Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media) Article
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Ear Infection Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
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Childhood Diseases: Measles, Mumps, & More
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Your Child's First Year of Development
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Ear Infections: All About Ear Conditions
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Common Cold Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
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Ear Infection Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
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Strep (Streptococcal) Throat Infection Quiz: Test Your Infectious Disease IQ
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Related Disease Conditions
Swollen Lymph Nodes (Glands)
Lymph nodes help the body's immune system fight infections. Causes of swollen lymph nodes (glands) may include infection (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasites). Symptoms of swollen lymph nodes vary greatly, but may include fever, night sweats, toothache, sore throat, or weight loss. Causes of swollen lymph nodes also vary, but may include cancer, the common cold, mono, chickenox, HIV, and herpes. The treatment of swollen lymph nodes depends upon the cause.
Inner Ear Infection
An inner ear infection or otitis interna is caused by viruses or bacteria and can occur in both adults and children. An inner ear infection can cause symptoms and signs, for example, a severe ear, dizziness, vertigo, nausea and vomiting, and vertigo. An inner ear infection also may cause inflammation of the inner ear or labyrinthitis. Inner ear infections are not contagious; however, the bacteria and viruses that cause the infection can be transmitted to other people. Good hygiene practices will help decrease the chances of the infection spreading to others. Inner ear infection symptoms and signs like ear pain and nausea may be relieved with home remedies or over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Some inner ear infections will need to be treated and cured with antibiotics or prescription pain or antinausea medication.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
An upper respiratory infection is a contagious infection of the structures of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx, and larynx. Common causes of an upper respiratory infection include bacteria and viruses such as rhinoviruses, group A streptococci, influenza, respiratory syncytial, whooping cough, diphtheria, and Epstein-Barr. Examples of symptoms of upper respiratory infection include sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever, and nasal congestion. Treatment of upper respiratory infections are based upon the cause. Generally, viral infections are treated symptomatically with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and home remedies.
Tonsillitis is a contagious infection with symptoms of bad breath, snoring, congestion, headache, hoarseness, laryngitis, and coughing up blood. Tonsillitis can be caused by acute infection of the tonsils, and several types of bacteria or viruses (for example, strep throat or mononucleosis). There are two types of tonsillitis, acute and chronic. Acute tonsillitis lasts from 1-2 weeks while chronic tonsillitis can last from months to years. Treatment of tonsillitis and adenoids include antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, and home remedies to relieve pain and inflammation, for example, saltwater gargle, slippery elm throat lozenges, sipping warm beverages and eating frozen foods (ice cream, popsicles), serrapeptase, papain, and andrographism Some people with chronic tonsillitis may need surgery (tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy).
How Do You Clear Blocked Eustachian Tubes?
Learn what medical treatments can help ease your blocked eustachian tube symptoms and speed up your recovery for blocked eustachian tubes. Ear infections are common and usually go away on their own after a few days, even without medical treatment. Learn about causes and treatment.
Inner Ear Infection (Labyrinthitis)
Labyrinthitis occurs when there is inflammation of the part of the ear responsible for balance and hearing), usually due to viral infections of the inner ear. Learn about causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Sore throat (throat pain) usually is described as pain or discomfort in the throat area. A sore throat may be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, toxins, irritants, trauma, or injury to the throat area. Common symptoms of a sore throat include a fever, cough, runny nose, hoarseness, earaches, sneezing, and body aches. Home remedies for a sore throat include warm soothing liquids and throat lozenges. OTC remedies for a sore throat include OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Antibiotics may be necessary for some cases of sore throat.
Ear Infection Home Treatment
Infections of the outer, middle, and inner ear usually are caused by viruses. Most outer (swimmer's ear) and middle ear (otitis media) infections can be treated at home with remedies like warm compresses for ear pain relief, tea tree, ginger, or garlic oil drops. Symptoms of an outer ear (swimmer's ear) and middle ear infection include mild to severe ear pain, pus draining from the ear, swelling and redness in the ear, and hearing problems. Middle and inner ear infections may cause fever, and balance problems. Inner ear infections also may cause nausea, vomiting, vertigo, ringing in the ear, and labyrinthitis (inflammation of the inner ear). Most outer and middle ear infections do not need antibiotics. Inner ear infections should be treated by a doctor specializing in ear and hearing problems.
A toothache is pain on or around a tooth. It may have a variety of causes, including a cavity, abscess, or even sinusitis. Toothache symptoms include pain, headache, earache, bad taste in the mouth, and gum swelling. Dental X-rays and other tests performed by a dentist are used to diagnose the cause of a toothache. Toothache treatment depends on the underlying cause. Taking proper care of the teeth and gums can help prevent toothache.
A perforated (ruptured, punctured) eardrum (tympanic membrane) is a hole or tear in the eardrum. The eardrum separates the ear canal and middle ear. Most ruptured eardrums do not cause pain, however, the condition can be uncomfortable. Bacteria, viral, and fungal infections are the most common causes a ruptured eardrum. Earwax removal attempts, changes in air pressure, and trauma are other causes of a ruptured eardrum. If you have a ruptured eardrum you may have symptoms like: Ear pain Partial or full hearing loss A mucousy or pus-like blood-tinged discharge from you ear Bleeding from the ear Ringing in the ear Vertigo Nausea Vomiting Middle ear infection Most people do not need medical treatment for a ruptured eardrum, however, some may need surgery depending upon the cause and size of the hole in the eardrum.REFERENCE: Cleveland Clinic. "Ruptured Eardrum (Perforated Tympanic Membrane)." Updated: Aug 208, 2014.
Earwax (ear wax) is a natural substance secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. It repels water, and traps dust and sand particles. Usually a small amount of wax accumulates, dries up, and then falls out of the ear canal carrying with it unwanted particles. Under ideal circumstances, you should never have to clean your ear canals. The absence of ear wax may result in dry, itchy ears, and even infection. Ear wax may accumulate in the ear for a variety of reasons including; narrowing of the ear canal, production of less ear wax due to aging, or an overproduction of ear wax in response to trauma or blockage within the ear canal.
What Can Trigger Vertigo?
Vertigo is the sensation of spinning or rocking, even when someone is at rest. Vertigo may be caused by a problem in the brain or spinal cord or a problem within in the inner ear. Head injuries, certain medications, and female gender are associated with a higher risk of vertigo. Medical history, a physical exam, and sometimes an MRI or CT scan are required to diagnose vertigo. The treatment of vertigo may include medication, special exercises to reposition loose crystals in the inner ear, or exercises designed to help the patient re-establish a sense of equilibrium. Controlling risk factors for stroke (blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and blood glucose) may decrease the risk of developing vertigo.
Mastoiditis in children and adults is inflammation and/or infection of the mastoid bone, which is located behind the ear. The most common cause of mastoiditis is an inner ear infection or otitis media. Acute mastoiditis lasts for a short period, while chronic mastoiditis can last for months to years. Symptoms of acute mastoiditis in children and adults include, pain and swelling behind the ear, pus draining from the ear, and a low-grade fever. Complications of mastoiditis include meningitis, abscess, dizziness, and conductive hearing loss. Mastoiditis requires antibiotic treatment so it cannot be treated at home with natural products or home remedies; however, home remedies may help reduce symptoms of pain, inflammation, and fever. Some individuals will need surgery to cure their infection.
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
Swimmer's Ear (External Otitis)
Swimmer's ear (external otitis) is an infection of the skin that covers the outer ear canal. Causes of swimmer's ear include excessive water exposure that leads to trapped bacteria in the ear canal. Symptoms of simmer's include a feeling of fullness in the ear, itching, and ear pain. Chronic swimmer's ear may be caused by eczema, seborrhea, fungus, chronic irritation, and other conditions. Common treatment includes antibiotic ear drops.
How Do You Know If You Have Vertigo or Ear Infection?
The sensation that the world around you is spinning is called vertigo while infection of the inner ear may cause labyrinthitis. The type of vertigo that is associated with an inner ear infection is called peripheral vertigo.
Why Is My Ear Draining Yellow Fluid?
Have you noticed yellow fluid draining from your ear? Learn about ear discharge and what to do if it happens to you.
Foreign Objects or Insects in the Ear
Objects or insects in the ear can be placed in the ear by patients themselves or an insect crawling in the ear. Earwax can also cause ear problems if Q-tips are overused to clean the ears. Symptoms of an object in the ear are inflammation and sensitivity, redness, or discharge of pus or blood. When to seek medical care for an object or insect in the ear is included in the article information.
Measles (rubeola) is a highly contagious disease that's caused by a virus. Symptoms include a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Treatment focuses on symptom relief. The disease can be prevented with the measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox (varicella) vaccine (MMRV).
Sinus Headache Pain, Symptoms, Treatments, Remedies, and Cures
Sinus headache is caused by a sinus infection or inflammation of the sinus cavities. Symptoms of a sinus headache include pain, runny or stuffy nose, and chronic cough. There are many causes of sinus headaches including sinusitis or sinus infection, allergies, smoke, infections, or colds. Treatment for sinus headache depends on the cause. Some home remedies may relieve sinus headache pain symptoms.
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
The Eustachian tube is a membrane lined tube that connects the middle ear space to the back of the nose. Symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction or blockage include popping and/or clicking in the ear, and ear fullness and/or pain. Causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction or blockage include allergies, sinus infections, ear infections, and the common cold. Treatment includes home remedies to relieve pain and several maneuvers (swallowing, chewing gum, yawning etc.), which can be done to improve Eustachian tube function. In severe cases surgery may be necessary.
Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PIDD)
Primary immunodeficiency disease or PIDD is a group of over 250 genetic diseases that involve the immune system. Symptoms of primary immunodeficiency diseases depend upon the specific disease, but some may include: Enlarged spleen Abnormal blood counts Recurrent skin infections Digestive problems Frequent hard-to-treat infections Treatment for primary immunodeficiency disease depend upon the cause.
The most common taste disorder is phantom taste perception; that is, a lingering, often unpleasant taste even though you have nothing in your mouth. We also can experience a reduced ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami, a condition called hypogeusia. Some people cannot detect any tastes, which is called ageusia.
How Do You Get Rid of an Inner Ear Infection Without Antibiotics?
What Is an Inner Ear Infection? Learn whether you need antibiotics and what other treatments can help to relieve your symptoms.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts 6 months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Children's health is focused on the well-being of children from conception through adolescence. There are many aspects of children's health, including growth and development, illnesses, injuries, behavior, mental illness, family health, and community health.
How Do You Know if Ear Pain Is Serious?
How do you know if ear pain is serious? Learn the signs of ear problems and when to see a doctor.
Turner syndrome is an inherited chromosomal condition affecting women. Women with Turner syndrome do not have ovarian function, and features of the syndrome include webbed neck, lymphedema of the hands and feet, heart defects, kidney problems, and skeletal abnormalities. The X chromosome is related to Turner syndrome. Treatment focuses on the symptoms of the syndrome.
How Do You Know if Your Baby Has an Ear Infection?
Baby ear infection symptoms can include signs of irritability, tugging on the ears, an unpleasant smell and discharge coming from the ears, and more. Learn all the signs here.
Hearing loss (deafness) may be present at birth or it may manifest later in life. Deafness may be genetic or due to damage from noise. Treatment of deafness depends upon its cause. Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by conditions affecting the cochlea, eighth cranial nerve, spinal cord, or brain. Examples of conditions that can lead to sensorineural hearing loss include Meniere's disease, noise-induced hearing loss, hearing loss of aging (presbycusis), nerve injury from syphilis, hearing loss of unknown cause (idiopathic hearing loss), nerve tumors, and drug toxicity (such as aspirin and aminoglycosides).
What Are the Symptoms of a Mastoid Infection?
What is a mastoid infection, and what causes it? Learn the signs of mastoiditis and how it is diagnosed and treated.
How Long Does Dizziness Last With an Inner Ear Infection?
If an infection occurs in any part of your inner ear, irritation can occur and lead to inflammation. Dizziness due to an ear infection usually goes away within a few weeks.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Its Prevention
Noise-induced hearing loss may be an acoustic trauma, which causes temporary hearing loss, or it may be permanent due to an acute acoustic trauma. Experts agree that continual exposure to more than 85 dBs (decibels) is dangerous to the ears. Ear plugs and ear muffs can help prevent noise-induced hearing loss as well as decreasing exposure to loud noises.
Granulomatosis With Polyangiitis
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is a condition that usually affects young or middle-aged adults, is an inflammation of the arteries supplying blood to the sinuses, lungs, and kidneys. Symptoms of granulomatosis with polyangiitis include bloody sputum, fatigue, weight loss, joint pain, sinusitis, shortness of breath, and fever. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis may be fatal within months without treatment. Treatment aims to stop inflammation with high doses of prednisone and cyclophosphamide.
What Are the Effects of Secondhand Smoke?
Secondhand smoke can cause illness and disease in nonsmokers. Some of these conditions include lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, SIDS, bronchitis, and pneumonia. The best way to protect yourself and your family from secondhand smoke exposure is to not allow anyone to smoke in the home and to avoid being around smoke when outside the home.
Shaken Baby Syndrome (Abusive Head Trauma)
Shaken baby syndrome, or abusive head trauma, is the condition that describes the symptoms and signs that result from the violent shaking of an infant. These symptoms and signs include bruising, vomiting, poor feeding, seizures, head trauma, and hemorrhages of the retina. Shaken baby syndrome treatment involves removing the infant from the household where the abuse occurred and providing supportive care for the child's injuries.
How Long Does It Take to Put Tubes in Your Ears?
Ear tubes or tympanostomy tubes are tiny plastic or metal tubes placed through the eardrum to drain fluid from the middle ear. It usually takes about 15 minutes to put tubes into your ears. There are three steps to this procedure.
Earache: 11 Effective Home Remedies
Most earaches are not medical emergencies and can often be treated at home. You can try one or a few of the following remedies before visiting a doctor including warm compresses, cold compresses, pain medications, hydration, humidity, ear drops, chewing gum, sucking on candy, nasal spray or alternating your sleeping position to relieve earache symptoms.
How Can You Tell if Your Baby Has an Earache?
The most common symptom of an ear infection is pain. You can tell if you baby has a ear infection because they may cry, have a fever, not want to eat, have trouble sleeping and exhibit other symptoms.
Headaches in Children
Kids get headaches and migraines too. Many adults with headaches started having them as kids, in fact, 20% of adult headache sufferers say their headaches started before age 10, and 50% report their headaches started before age 20.
What Are Some Taste Disorders?
The most common taste disorders involve phantom taste disorders, hypogeusia, ageusia and dysgeusia. Taste disorders may be related to diabetes, high blood pressure, poor nutrition, poor dental hygiene, COVID and nervous system disorders.
Local ResourcesFind a local Ear, Nose, & Throat Doctor in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Bad Taste in the Mouth
- Metallic Taste in the Mouth
- Jaw Pain
- Drainage of Pus
- Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
- Inner Ear Infection (Otitis Interna)
- Hearing Loss
- How to Choose a Doctor
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Doctor: Getting the Most from Your Doctor's Appointment
- Babies FAQs
- Common Cold FAQs
- Strep Streptococcal Throat Infection FAQs
- Ear Infection FAQs
- Ear: Anatomy of Hearing and Balance
- Strep Throat Diagnosis & Treatment
- The Broad Spectrum of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Disease
- What Causes an Ear Infection?
- How Do You Get an Ear Infection?
- Strep Throat Complications
- Antibiotics 101
- Air Travel, Colds, and Sinus Infections
Medications & Supplements
- Which Antibiotic Is Best for An Ear Infection?
- Amoxicillin (Amoxil) vs. Doxycycline (Vibramycin)
- Penicillin (Antibiotics)
- Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, Augmentin XR, Augmentin ES-600, Amoclan)
- Keflex (cephalexin)
- Amoxicillin vs. Cipro
- azithromycin (Zithromax): For COVID-19
- Doxycycline vs. Azithromycin
- Cipro, XR (ciprofloxacin) vs. Keflex (cephalexin)
- Doxycycline vs. Keflex
- cefdinir (Omnicef has been discontinued)
- Doxycycline vs. Cipro
- Nitrofurantoin vs. Amoxicillin
- Amoxicillin vs. Augmentin (Comparison of Side Effects and Antibiotic Uses)
- Amoxicillin vs. Penicillin
- Amoxicillin vs. Ceftriaxone
- cefixime (Suprax)
- cefuroxime, Ceftin, Zinacef
- Amoxicillin vs. Ampicillin
- Nitrofurantoin vs. Cephalexin
- Keflex vs. Penicillin
- Doxycycline vs. Bactrim
- Amoxicillin vs. Ceftin
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) vs. Naproxen (Aleve)
- Sulfonamides (Bactrim, Bactrim DS, Septra, Septra DS)
- Side Effects of Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim)
- Nitrofurantoin vs. Bactrim
- Doxycycline vs. Levaquin
- cefpodoxime proxetil (Vantin, Bantan)
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. cefuroxime
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. Keflex (cephalexin)
- Cefdinir vs. cefixime (Suprax) 3rd Generation Antibiotics
- clarithromycin, Biaxin
- Augmentin (amoxicillin and clavulanic acid) Side Effects, Warnings and Drug Interactions
- Bactrim vs. Cefdinir
- Moxatag (amoxicillin) Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. azithromycin
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. Augmentin
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. ofloxacin
- Side Effects of Omnicef (cefdinir)
- Side Effects of Keflex (cephalexin)
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. cefpodoxime
- antipyrine and benzocaine otic (Auralgan, Aurodex - removed from market)
- Levaquin (levofloxacin) vs. Keflex (cephalexin)
- Cefdinir vs. Cefpodoxime
- Cefpodoxime Proxetil (Vantin) Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions
- cefprozil (Cefzil)
- Primsol (trimethoprim)
- Side Effects of Biaxin (clarithromycin)
- penicillin V potassium (Beepen-VK, V-Cillin-K)
- cefaclor (Raniclor)
- neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B sulfate, hydrocortisone acetate (Cortisporin, Otimar, Pediotic)
- Auralgan (antipyrine and benzocaine otic) Side Effects, Warnings, and Drug Interactions
- Side Effects of Lorabid (loracarbef)
- Side Effects of Gantanol (sulfamethoxazole)
- Side Effects of Principen (ampicillin)
- Suprax (cefixime) Side Effects, Warnings, and Drug Interactions
- Side Effects of Cefzil (cefprozil)
- Lincocin (lincomycin) Side Effects, Warnings, and Drug Interactions
- Side Effects of Raniclor (cefaclor)
Prevention & Wellness
- Routine Ear Wax 'Flush' Leaves Woman's Face Paralyzed
- Ear Infections: 'Breakthrough' Ear Tube Surgery Tula Approved
- Infections, Especially UTIs, May Be Triggers for Strokes
- Health Tip: Preventing Swimmer's Ear
- Suspect Your Child Has an Ear Infection? There May Soon Be an App for That
- 'Buzzing' in Ear Alerted Boy to Very Unwelcome Visitor
- Health Tip: Earache Home Care
- Health Tip: Cochlear Implants
- 'Sonic Attacks' on U.S. Embassy Staff in Cuba May Have Been Crickets
- What's Best for Babies With Recurring Ear Infections
- Health Tip: What's Ear Wax?
- Study Supports Oxygen Therapy for Sudden Hearing Loss
- Health Tip: Ear Tubes May Help Prevent Ear Infections
- More U.S. Parents Smoking Pot Around Kids
- If Kids Exposed to Pot, Tobacco Smoke, ER Visits Rise
- Health Tip: Care for Pierced Ears
- Herbal Drug Kratom Contains Opioids, FDA Says
- 'Microbiomes' May Hold Key to Kids' Ear Infections
- Decline in Kids' Ear Infections Linked to Pneumococcal Vaccine
- Shield Yourself From 'Swimmer's Ear'
- Common Post-Op Ear Drops Tied to Eardrum Perforations in Kids
- Study Suggests Genetic Link to Middle Ear Infections
- Gel Antibiotic: An Easier Ear Infection Treatment Someday?
- Can an Antibiotic Help You? Quick Test Might Someday Tell
- Mom Was Right: A Good Night's Sleep Helps Keep You Healthy
- Infant Ear Infections Becoming Less Common
- Ear Infections Common, But Often Missed, in Infants
- Health Tip: If Your Child Has Trouble Hearing
- Common Childhood Vaccine Cuts 'Superbug' Infection: Study
- Health Tip: Reduce Your Child's Risk of Ear Infection
- More Evidence Breast-Feeding Lowers Child's Risk of Infections, Allergies
- Health Tip: Reducing Your Child's Risk of Ear Infections
- Kids' Ear Infections Cost U.S. Health System Nearly $3B Annually: Report
- Ear Tubes May Not Have Long-Term Benefits for Kids With Ear Infections
- Many Docs Wrongly Prescribe Powerful Antibiotics: Study
- Pediatrics Group Issues New Ear Infection Guidelines
- Health Tip: Treating Swimmer's Ear
- Health Tip: If You Have Tinnitus
- Health Tip: Possible Signs of an Ear Infection
- Many Babies Healthier in Homes With Dogs
- HIV Exposure Before Birth May Raise Kids' Risk of Hearing Loss
- Health Tip: Help Prevent Chronic Ear Infections
- Secondhand Smoke Permeates Many Apartment Buildings: Study
- Poor Sleep Heightens 'Ringing Ear' Disease Symptoms: Study
- Infections Might Raise Stroke Risk in Children: Study
- Chew on This: Gum May Prevent Ear Infections
- Secondhand Smoke Raises Kids' Ear Infection Risk
- Ear Infections: Antibiotics Often Not Needed
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