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When to Seek Medical Care
Most otitis media will resolve with symptomatic care including pain control, good hydration, and humidity. Bullous myringitis and otitis externa almost always requires medical care. It may be difficult to distinguish between the different types of ear infection without seeking medical care.
Pain that lasts for a few hours or increases in intensity should be evaluated by a health care professional. As well, earache associated with hearing loss, unexplained fever, and general malaise or feeling poorly should be clues that care may be needed.
Infants under the age of 8 weeks who develop a fever should be taken for medical care immediately.
People with diabetes or those who are immunocompromised are at risk for malignant otitis externa, a condition that requires aggressive antibiotic treatment. The symptoms include earache, fever, and redness around the ear. These should be warning signs to seek medical care.
A person complaining of earache, but also has a fever, headache, neck stiffness, lethargy, and is vomiting may be signs of meningitis or encephalitis and should seek emergency medical care immediately.
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