Ear Infection: How Long Does It Last? When Should You See a Doctor? 

Health Tips
September 8, 2021
2 min read
Ear Infection: How Long Does It Last? When Should You See a Doctor? 

Ear infections, also known as acute otitis media, are infections of the middle ear. Most ear infections originate in the air-filled spot behind the eardrum where tiny vibrating bones of the ear are located. Children are more likely to get an ear infection than adults. Some ear infections clear up on their own, while others require a doctor’s analysis. 

The length of an ear infection may vary. However, if discomfort from your middle ear infection persists, you should see a doctor. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to cure this irritating issue. 

Overview of Ear Infections

Infections of the ear can be either bacterial or viral. They are painful because of the inflammation and buildup of fluids in the sensitive middle ear. It is possible to develop an ear infection in both ears, which can cause hearing issues and other complications.

There are two general types of ear infections: acute and chronic. An acute ear infection is a singular, isolated infection that is painful but does not return after treatment or clearing up. Chronic ear infections recur often and never completely go away. They can cause serious hearing issues and damage to the ear.

Causes of an Ear Infection

Ear infections occur when the eustachian tubes, which connect your middle ear to your upper throat, become inflamed or blocked. This infection causes fluid to build up in the middle ear. 

Illnesses such as colds and the flu can cause ear infections. Allergies are also a common cause. Sinus infections and an abundance of mucus can cause the eustachian tubes to swell. Ear infections happen whenever your health is compromised and a virus or bacterium finds a way into your middle ear. 

How Long Do They Last?

The amount of time an ear infection affects someone varies from person to person and with their age and health level. The average person experiences a middle ear infection for about 3 days, with symptoms sometimes lasting for a week. As mentioned earlier, ear infections will occasionally go away on their own in a couple of days. 

When Should You See A Doctor?

You should see a doctor if ear infection symptoms last longer than a day or two. Common symptoms of ear infections include ear pain, frequent fluid drainage of the ear, hearing problems, and headaches. You should not hesitate to contact your doctor soon after experiencing symptoms if they are intense. It is essential to have a medical professional diagnose and administer treatment if necessary. 

How Doctors Diagnose Ear Infections

There are a variety of ways that a doctor identifies and diagnoses ear infections. Doctors will get a full look at the outside and inside of your ear with an otoscope, a magnifying lens. A doctor may or may not diagnose you with an ear infection after taking a detailed look. Your doctor can also test how well your ear is working and gathering sound. 


Treatment of ear infections depends on the person. You can purchase over-the-counter drugs such as Advil, Tylenol, and ear drops. If your doctor finds that you have an ear infection, he can prescribe drugs designed to fight the infection. These are usually strong antibiotics. 

BASS Medical Group is here to take care of you and your family’s health. Our experienced medical professionals know how to get rid of an ear infection. Visit our website for more information or contact us at (925) 350-4044