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Complications of Ear Infections

Overview

Complications from ear infections are rare. But some problems that can occur include:

  • Trouble hearing. Hearing problems are usually temporary and mild to moderate. Long-lasting hearing loss is rare. But some children may have problems learning to talk and understand speech if they have repeat ear infections.
  • Rupture of the eardrum. If fluid continues to build up in the middle ear, the eardrum may burst. This leaves a small hole that often heals within 2 weeks.

Another complication is ongoing inflammation of the middle ear. The major symptom is repeat or ongoing drainage of pus from the ear through a small hole in the eardrum. Many children with this problem have some hearing loss.

Other complications may develop if there are repeat ear infections:

  • Tissue growth behind the eardrum.
  • Damage to the tiny bones in the middle ear.

Rare complications include mastoiditis and meningitis.

Credits

Current as of: December 2, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics