Many things. The infection could clear by itself, about 25% do in 48 hours. If left alone the infection could result in permenant hearing loss, bone infection, brain abscess or thrombosis of a large vein in the brain called the lateral venous sinus (sort of a stroke)- just to name a few complications.
Usually gets better. Most ear infection will resolve by themselves, so not treating an occasional ear infection may not cause a proble. However, if pain continues to increase for more than 48 hours or infections are recurrent, then examination and treatment is necessary.
Unlikely. In the era before abx, people just tolerated ear infections until the body cleared them (often took months).Doc's occasionally lanced the drum to let the pressure off, & some people eventually needed ear bone reconstruction after years of recurrent pbs. Now, abx rx will speed up the cure but you don't have to run to the er worried u will go deaf.
Comfort measures. Some viral ear infections self heal in 2-4 day. Bacterial infections tend to persist and may lead to real complications. Infants need an early eval.If older if not better after 3-4 days, an evaluation and treatment is advised.Prior to antibiotics, hearing loss due to chronic middle ear disease was not uncommon and a significant complication called mastoiditis requires surgical drainage. Read more...