Ear Infection

Overview

Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is not the same as stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.

For most people, influenza resolves on its own, but sometimes, influenza and its complications can be deadly. People at higher risk of developing flu complications include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of an ear infection may vary, but patients typically experience :

Children

  • Ear pain
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Acting more irritable than usual
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of balance

Adult

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Diminished hearing

Prevention

The following tips may reduce the risk of developing ear infections :

Prevent common colds and other illnesses. Teach your children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and to not share eating and drinking utensils. Teach your children to cough or sneeze into their arm crook. If possible, limit the time your child spends in group child care. A child care setting with fewer children may help. Try to keep your child home from child care or school when ill.

Avoid secondhand smoke. Make sure that no one smokes in your home. Away from home, stay in smoke-free environments.

Breast-feed your baby. If possible, breast-feed your baby for at least six months. Breast milk contains antibodies that may offer protection from ear infections.

If you bottle-feed, hold your baby in an upright position. Avoid propping a bottle in your baby’s mouth while he or she is lying down. Don’t put bottles in the crib with your baby.

Talk to your doctor about vaccinations. Ask your doctor about what vaccinations are appropriate for your child. Seasonal flu shots, pneumococcal and other bacterial vaccines may help prevent ear infections.

Still feeling sick?​

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