I have a friend working in the audiology department of a local hospital and she says that people often leave their ear infections far too long without treatment. Unfortunately, even if you think you can handle the pain, those symptoms and signs are there for a reason.
And your hearing isn't the only thing that's at stake. Remember that your inner ear is used for balance as well. It's also sensitive to pressure adjustments. I have another friend who had an ear infection that managed to get so bad they needed to fly her to another hospital and they had to sedate her, the pain was so unbearable when they flew up and her ears tried to pop.