Is an Ear Infection a Sign of COVID-19?

A young male doctor wears a surgical mask, shield, and gloves. He collects a nasal swab sample from a young male.

Now that we’re nearly two full years into the pandemic, you probably know that COVID-19 is an upper respiratory infection that frequently causes symptoms like fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, and loss of taste or smell. Other well-known symptoms of COVID-19 include congestion, runny nose, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and even constipation.

With so many symptoms related to the COVID-19 virus, you might be wondering, “Is an ear infection a sign of COVID-19?” While there isn’t a clear connection between ear infections and COVID-19, some people are reporting earaches with the new and more contagious Delta variant. The Delta variant is a highly contagious strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Some data suggest it might cause more severe illness than previous variants, and present more often with headaches, sinus congestion, sore throats, and runny noses.

Earaches and the Delta variant of COVID-19

Earache is a common symptom of respiratory infections because of the connection between the nasal passages and the ears. Because of this, it’s possible to have an upper respiratory infection, like COVID-19, and a sinus infection at the same time. A sinus infection can trap fluid in the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum) and encourage bacterial or viral growth. And this can lead to an ear infection.

Signs and symptoms of an ear infection

Ear infections are very common, especially in children. If you or a loved one has persistent symptoms of an ear infection that does not get better on its own within 48-72 hours (24 hours for infants and young children), seek immediate medical care from your primary care physician or local urgent care facility.

Symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • Mild to severe pain inside the ear
  • Mile to severe pressure inside the ear
  • Fever
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Brown or yellow discharge (not earwax)
  • Itching or irritation in and around the ear
  • Trouble balancing

If you or your child is struggling with a persistent ear infection, visit the skilled physicians at Coastal Urgent Care of Thibodaux. We will examine your ears with special instruments that can measure how much fluid is inside your ears and test the movement of the eardrum. Depending on the type and severity of the ear infection, they will prescribe an appropriate type and dose of medication to help you feel better fast.

Treatment options for an ear infection

Oftentimes, a virus is the culprit behind your ear infection, which means antibiotics won’t help. But that doesn’t mean you need to live with the pain. Here are a few treatment options that can help alleviate the symptoms of your ear infection:

  • Over the counter (OTC) pain relievers
    Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are over-the-counter pain relief medications that can help control symptoms of otitis media (middle ear infection). They’re also safe to use with or without antibiotics. Be sure to follow the dosing instructions and check with your pediatrician before giving to babies and young children.
  • Elevated sleep position
    Sleeping with your head slightly elevated will not only help drain your sinuses and reduce the pressure inside your sinus cavities, but it will also help alleviate ear pain.
  • Cold or warm compress
    Alternate cold and warm compresses over the affected ear every 10 minutes. If you find that one is helping more than the other, you do not need to alternate.
  • Neck exercises
    Neck rotation exercises can help alleviate pressure inside the ear canal and reduce symptoms of ear pain.

Coastal Urgent Care of Thibodaux offers rapid COVID testing

If you have flu-like symptoms and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please visit Coastal Urgent Care of Thibodaux and follow our safety protocols.

We offer COVID viral rapid testing to determine if you currently have the virus. We also provide the COVID-19 antibody test to determine if you’ve previously been exposed. Results are available in 1-2 business days.

For safe, effective ear infection treatment in a hurry, visit Coastal Urgent Care of Thibodaux. We welcome walk-in appointments 7 days a week.