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Otitis media - acute; Infection - inner ear; Middle ear infection - acute
In infants, the main sign is often irritability and inconsolable crying. Many infants and children with an acute ear infection have a fever or trouble sleeping. Tugging on the ear is not always a sign that the child has an ear infection.
Symptoms of an acute ear infection in older children or adults include:
The ear infection may start shortly after having a cold. Sudden drainage of yellow or green fluid from the ear may mean a ruptured eardrum.
All acute ear infections include fluid behind the eardrum. You can use an electronic ear monitor, such as EarCheck, to detect this fluid at home. The device is available at pharmacies, but you still need to see your doctor to confirm any possible ear infection.
The health care provider will look inside the ears using an instrument called an otoscope. This may show:
A hearing test may be recommended if the person has a history of ear infections.
Tähtinen PA, Laine MK, Huovinen P, Jalava J, Ruuskanen O, Ruohola A. A placebo-controlled trial of antimicrobial treatment for acute otitis media. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jan 13;364(2):116-26.
Hoberman A, Paradise JL, Rockette HE, Shaikh N, Wald ER, Kearney DH, et al. Treatment of acute otitis media in children under 2 years of age. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jan 13;364(2):105-15.
Coker TR, Chan LS, Newberry SJ, Limbos MA, Suttorp MJ, Shekelle PG, et al. Diagnosis, microbial epidemiology, and antibiotic treatment of acute otitis mediain children: a systematic review. JAMA. 2010 Nov 17;304(19):2161-9.
Koopman L, Hoes AW, Glasziou PP, Cees L, Appelman L, Burke P, et al. Antibiotic therapy to prevent the development of asymptomatic middle ear effusion in children with acute otitis media: a meta-analysis of individual patient data. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2008;134:128-132.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years---United States, 2011. MMWR. 2011;60(5).
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