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Ear Infections in Children: Signs and Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

As parents, guardians, or caregivers, ensuring the well-being of our little ones is always a top priority. One common health concern that many children face, especially during their early years, is ear infections. These infections can be painful and distressing for children, but the good news is that they are often easily treatable when detected early.

In this blog, we will explore the signs and symptoms of ear infections in children as suggested by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, helping you stay vigilant and provide timely care when needed.

A numbered list of the signs & symptoms of ear infection in children as identified by the National Institute on Deafness and other Communicative Disorders
Signs & Symptoms of Ear Infection in Children / ENT Family

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Children

Don't ignore the signs and symptoms of ear infections in children! Learn how to detect and treat them early for a healthier, happier child.

1. Tugging or Pulling at the Ear(s)

One of the most telltale signs of an ear infection in a child is when they repeatedly tug or pull at their ear(s). This action is their way of expressing discomfort or pain in the affected ear. Keep an eye out for this behavior, especially if it's accompanied by other symptoms.

2. Fussiness and Crying

If your child seems unusually fussy or is crying more than usual, it could be a sign of an ear infection. The pain and discomfort caused by the infection can make children irritable and unhappy. Pay attention to their mood changes, as this can be an early indicator.

3. Trouble Sleeping

Ear infections can disrupt a child's sleep patterns, leading to restless nights and frequent awakenings. If your child is having trouble sleeping or is waking up in discomfort, it's worth considering the possibility of an ear infection as the culprit.

4. Fever (especially in infants and younger children)

Fever is a common response to infections, and ear infections are no exception. Infants and younger children, in particular, may develop a fever when they have an ear infection. If your child's temperature rises above 100.4°F (38°C), it's important to consult a healthcare professional.

5. Fluid Draining from the Ear

In some cases, you may notice fluid draining from your child's ear. This discharge can range from clear to yellow or even bloody. It's a clear sign that there is an issue within the ear, and medical attention should be sought promptly.

Ear tubes are commonly recommended by ear, nose, and throat specialists based on factors like the frequency of infections and the persistence of fluid in the middle ear. Read more about them here.

6. Clumsiness or Problems with Balance

Ear infections can affect a child's equilibrium, leading to problems with balance and coordination. If your child appears clumsier than usual or has difficulty maintaining their balance, consider the possibility of an ear infection as the underlying cause.

7. Trouble Hearing or Responding to Quiet Sounds

As the infection progresses, it can impact your child's ability to hear clearly. They may struggle to respond to quiet sounds or seem unresponsive when you call their name. This hearing difficulty can be distressing for both the child and the caregiver.

Ear infections in children can be uncomfortable and even painful, but with early detection and proper treatment, they can be managed effectively. It's crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms mentioned above and to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect your child may have an ear infection. To explore potential treatment options for ear infections, visit this link.

Remember, happy child = happy parents!


Are you concerned about your child's ear health? Don't wait! Schedule a check-up at ENT Family today.

Your child's hearing is precious—trust ENT Family for expert care and peace of mind.

Address: 3911 Hollywood Blvd suite 201, Hollywood, FL 33021, United States

Phone: 754-888-1368


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Dr. David Eleff, Otolaryngologist/Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist at ENT Family in Hollywood, Florida.

This article has been medically reviewed by  otolaryngologist, David Eleff, M.D.

ENT Family Blog

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