Ear infections involve pain, a feeling of fullness in the ears or diminished hearing. "Typically, they occur with allergies or after a cold," says Miriam O'Leary, M.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. "The tubes connecting the nose and ears swell; fluid builds up and becomes infected." Swimmer's ear, another common infection, occurs when bacteria or fungus get in the ear canal.
What to do: See your doctor if pain or fullness lasts more than a few days. Your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics or ear drops. If your discomfort doesn't improve after a few days of treatment, or if you have repeated ear infections, you may need to be evaluated by an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT).