Updated 05 August 2013

When to take earache to the doctor

Unresolved middle ear infection can lead to complications.

Unresolved otitis media (middle ear infection) can lead to complications, so you should call your doctor immediately if:

  - You have earache or a sense of fullness in the ear. This is especially important if you also have a fever, have recently had an upper respiratory tract infection, or if the patient is a child younger than six months. A fever indicates the possibility of a more serious infection.
  - You frequently develop otitis media; repeated bouts can lead to hearing loss or more serious infections.
  - You have hearing problems; the infection may be affecting hearing ability.
  - Nausea and diarrhoea accompanying earache
  - Nasal congestion
  - Dizziness or change in balance
  - A yellow or red and bulging eardrum, visible to a doctor when examining the infected ear with a special instrument called an otoscope
 - Sometimes, if severe middle ear infection is not treated, the pressure of pus in the middle ear may eventually burst the eardrum. Once this happens, fever usually decreases, ear pain stops, and pus begins to drain into the ear canal.

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