Signs and symptoms of ear disease

Page last updated: 05 November 2013

Young child with runny nose.

Signs of a cold

(coughing, sore throat, runny nose)

Young child pulling at ear, being held by carer.

Kids pulling ears

Young child with hand pressing her ear, indicating pain.

Pain in ear

Woman feeling baby’s forehead to check for a temperature.


Baby with runny fluid or pus from ear.

Runny fluid or pus

Young child pulling at her ear indicating trouble hearing and pain.

Can't hear properly

Young child refusing food.

Not eating

Older child holding a baby, using bib to clean spit up.

Diarrhoea or vomiting

Young child showing no symptoms of ear disease. Don’t forget kids can have ear disease with none of these symptoms. You can ask your nurse, health worker or doctor for an ear check at each visit.

Fast facts - language development

  • When babies are born, hearing is their only fully developed sense.
  • From birth to 4 months, babies will respond to sudden loud sounds by extending their arms and legs and throwing their head back (more reflex).
  • Between 4 and 6 months babies move their eyes or turn their heads towards sound.
  • At 6 months, babies will start to produce speech like sounds. They will smile at soothing sounds and cry at harsh or angry sounds.
  • By 12 to 15 months, children will start using single words with meaning and can follow simple instructions.
  • By 18 to 20 months, children can put two words together in basic sentences.
  • At age 2 (and above), children can interpret sounds and words and talk in conversations.