We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Viral Ear Infection?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A viral ear infection is an infection of the ear caused by the presence of a virus. Influenza, rhinovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus are common culprits behind viral infections involving the ear. While antibiotics are commonly prescribed for severe ear infections, they will not be useful in the treatment of a viral infection, as viruses are not susceptible to antibiotic medication. Most viral ear infections resolve on their own with supportive therapy and do not require treatment.

There are several ways a virus can cause an ear infection. In some cases, viruses infecting the nose or sinuses cause inflammation and irritation in the eustachian tube, a structure that provides drainage for the ear. If the ear cannot drain, fluid builds up, causing inflammation and eventual infection within the ear. Other viruses can attack the ear itself, causing the structures in the ear to become infected. The body can usually fight the virus off, although the patient may experience some pain, discomfort, and temporary hearing loss while the infection runs its course.

In some cases, a viral ear infection can be a serious medical problem and treatment is necessary. There is a risk of penetration into the bone around the ear, along with permanent hearing loss or damage. With infections like influenza, a patient with a weakened immune system might not be able to fight the virus off and usually experiences systemic infection, not just a viral ear infection. For most patients, however, the virus is simply a temporary cause of pain and discomfort.

Some doctors prescribe antibiotics generally for ear infections, operating under the assumption that they are caused by bacteria. If the infection doesn't respond, diagnostic testing may be used to look for viruses. Treatment for viral ear infections typically includes rest and plenty of hydration to keep the patient healthy. It may be possible to provide anti-virals to treat a viral ear infection, depending on the virus responsible for the infection. Surgery to drain the ear and make the patient feel more comfortable is also an option.

Immunocompromised individuals are more at risk for infection and must take appropriate precautions to avoid infections, including those that could lead to viral ear infection. For otherwise healthy people, exercising proper hygiene is the best preventative measure for addressing viral ear infections. Washing hands regularly is recommended and people should cover their mouths and noses while sneezing and coughing to prevent the spread of infection.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Sep 17, 2013

@anamur-- I think using a netty pot with saline solution helps with viral infections in the ear. Saline solution can kill viruses and it will also help open up the ear canal.

By fBoyle — On Sep 16, 2013

@anamur-- Recovery time probably depends on the person and how bad the infection is. It took mine about three weeks to go away completely.

Doctors don't usually do anything for viral ear infections because there isn't much that can be done. If your symptoms worsen and if you develop dizziness, nausea, etc. from the infection, then they can try to drain your ears.

This was the main issue I had. I had a viral middle ear infection and my eustachian tubes were blocked. The change in inner ear pressure gave me nausea and dizziness. My doctor drained my ears and that resolved the problem. The infection disappeared soon after that.

I don't know any home remedies but it's always a good idea to keep the immune system strong. Eat a balanced diet and take multivitamins.

By serenesurface — On Sep 15, 2013

My doctor said that my ear infection is viral and that I will just have to wait for it to go away. He didn't prescribe me anything-- no antibiotics, no antivirals, nothing.

I have an ear ache from the infection but that's about it. How long will it take for a viral ear infection to go away? Is there anything I can do at home to help speed up recovery?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.