@bythewell - I never realized how terrible they could be until a friend of mine developed one while we were traveling overseas. She thought she could beat it without seeing a doctor and we were in a developing country, so it got a lot worse than it might have if we were at home.
She basically got to the point where she was vomiting and had a fever and I was really scared she was going to die. They decided to fly her to another country in order to treat it and they had to completely sedate her because the pressure of flying on her ears was like torture. I can't even imagine it, seeing as I feel like it's bad enough when I've just got a cold and I'm flying, let alone in her condition.
After a few rounds of strong antibiotics she was fine, but it was touch and go for a moment there. Don't mess around with your ears, they can definitely get you into serious trouble if you don't treat them right.