Ear Infection

what is an ear infection

What is an ear infection?

An ear infection is an infection of the middle ear, which is an air-filled space behind the eardrum which contains small bones.

Read More

This is a condition that usually occurs when you have a fever, strep throat, or an allergic attack, and then cause fluid to get stuck in the middle ear.

Ear infections often do not need medication because they can heal on their own. Treatment may begin with coping with pain and monitoring the problem.

Sometimes, antibiotics are used as cleaning agents for ear infections. Some people tend to experience several types of this condition.

This condition often causes pain due to inflammation and fluid buildup. This condition can be treated by reducing risk factors. Discuss it with your doctor for more information.

How common is this condition?

Anyone can experience this condition, but children are more often affected by this condition.

Although rare, adults can also experience ear infections. Quoted from the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), five out of six children will experience at least one of these infections on their third birthday.

Signs & Symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms of an ear infection?

In adults, symptoms of ear infections generally are:

  • Pain in the ear (pain that feels sharp, sudden or mild and ongoing)
  • Sharp pain accompanied by warm discharge from the ear canal
  • Feel full of the ears
  • Nausea
  • Muffling hearing
  • Fluid from the ear.

Symptoms of ear infections in children include:

  • Tugging at the ear
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Fever
  • Easily angry, tired
  • Fluid from the ear
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cry at night while lying down.

Most of these infections do not cause long-term complications. However, frequent and persistent infections can cause serious complications such as speech and hearing problems or developmental delays, the spread of the infection, tearing of the eardrum.

There may be signs and symptoms not mentioned above. If you have a concern about a particular symptom, consult your doctor.

When should I see a doctor?

If you have any of the above signs or symptoms or other questions, consult your doctor. Each person’s body is different. Always consult a doctor to treat your health condition.


What causes ear infections?

Quoted from the Mayo Clinic, the cause of middle ear infections is usually bacterial or viral.

This infection is often caused by other diseases, such as colds, flu, or allergies, which cause blockages and swelling in the nose, throat, the eustachian tubes.

The eustachian duct is a pair of narrow tubes that stretch from the middle ear to the back of the throat located behind the nasal passages. This works for the following things:

  • Regulates air pressure in the middle ear
  • Refresh the air in the ear
  • Drain spending from the ear

Eustachian tubes or tubes that are swollen can become blocked and cause a buildup of fluid in the middle ear.

This fluid can become infected and cause symptoms of ear infection.

In children, the eustachian tubes are narrower which makes them more difficult to dry and more easily blocked.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for ear infections?

There are many risk factors for this condition, namely:

  • Children between 6 months and 2 years old
  • Children who are left in daycare
  • Bottle feeding
  • Seasonal factors, especially in autumn and winter

Poor air quality.

Medicines & Medications

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your doctor.

How is this condition diagnosed?

The doctor diagnoses an infection or other condition based on the symptoms you mentioned and the examination. In addition, the doctor can also use a device with a light (otoscope) to see the ear canal, throat, and nose.

Pneumatic otoscope

This tool is usually the only special tool that doctors need to diagnose infection. This tool is used to see the inside of the ear and determine whether there is fluid behind the eardrum.

Additional tests

If the diagnosis does not provide enough information, the doctor can perform other diagnostic tests, such as:


This test measures the movement of the eardrum. It shows how well the eardrum moves and provides an indirect measurement of pressure on the middle ear.

Acoustic reflectometry

This test measures how much sound is emitted by the instrument which is reflected by the eardrum and this test is an indirect measurement of fluid in the middle ear.


This test is used to check the source of infecting the ear fluid. This test can be useful if the infection does not respond well to previous treatments.

If your child has an infection that does not go away or a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, your doctor may refer to an ear specialist (audiologist), speech therapist, or development therapist for tests of hearing, speech, language understanding, and developmental abilities.

How is an ear infection treated?

Some of these infections resolve without antibiotics. Medication to treat ear infections depends on many factors, including the age and severity of symptoms.

The goal of treatment is to overcome this condition before complications occur. Treatment for ear infections usually involves treating the cause and killing the bacteria in the eustachian tube.

Wait and see approach

Symptoms of this condition usually improve after a few days to two weeks without any treatment. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend a wait-and-see approach to the situation below:

Children aged 6-23 with mild middle ear pain for less than 48 hours and have a body temperature of less than 39 ℃.

Children aged 24 months or older with earaches in one or both ears for less than 48 hours and have a body temperature of less than 39 ℃.

Medication for ear infections

Your doctor will recommend that you take medications to reduce pain from ear infections, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others).

After conducting surveillance for a certain period of time, the doctor will probably do treatment with antibiotics. Amoxicillin is an antibiotic choice that can be used to treat bacterial infections of the ear because this drug is very effective. Amoxicillin can usually treat infections within 7 to 10 days.

In addition, you are recommended not to use aspirin and tonsillectomy for treatment.

Treatment at home

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can be done to treat ear infections?

Here are lifestyle and home remedies that can help you deal with this condition:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid areas that are too crowded
  • Stop pacifiers from infants and young children
  • Breastfeeding a baby
  • Avoiding cigarette smoke
  • Follow immunizations in a timely manner.

If you have questions, consult your doctor for the best solution for your problem.