Ear Infections | Symptoms


What are the symptoms of ear infections?

The most common symptoms of an acute ear infection are ear pain and fever. If your child is too young to tell you what hurts, he or she may cry or pull at his or her ear. Your child may also be irritable or listless, have trouble hearing, or not feel like eating or sleeping.

What are the symptoms of otitis media with effusion?

Children who have otitis media with effusion may have the following symptoms:

  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Muffled hearing
  • Fluid that drains from the ears
  • Some pain inside the ear (if your child is too young to speak and tell you his or her ear hurts, he or she may tug at the ear often)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Headache

Sometimes, otitis media with effusion does not cause any symptoms.

What does swimmer's ear feel like?

Symptoms of swimmer's ear include:

  • Pain or itching in the outer part of the ear (the pain is often worse when the ear moves, such as when you are chewing)
  • A stuffy or plugged-up feeling in the affected ear
  • Fluid draining from the affected ear
  • Decreased or muffled hearing

If left untreated, the affected ear can become swollen and very painful to the touch. The fluid may become more pus-like and the muffled of decreased hearing may become worse.


See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 07/13
Created: 01/99