Middle ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses get into the Eustachian tube. Since this tube runs from the back of your nose to your middle ear, it’s easy for an upper respiratory infection or allergy-related infection to spread into your ear.

After microorganisms get into the ear, the Eustachian tube becomes inflamed and swollen, trapping mucus and fluids in the middle ear.

In some children, the fluid remains in the ear after the infection heals. This causes a chronic infection that can damage the middle ear bones and lead to hearing loss if it goes untreated.

Severe pain is the primary symptom of a middle ear infection, although hearing may be diminished and excess fluid may drain from the ear, too. Young children with an ear infection often have a fever, cry more than usual, and have trouble sleeping.