An ear infection is a viral or bacterial infection of the outer, inner or middle ear. The condition is common, particularly in children, and is generally considered to be non-serious. An ear infection can cause painful inflammation, as well as a buildup of fluid in the ear, among other symptoms.
The Eustachian tube, which drains fluids away from the middle ear, may become plugged due to a viral or bacterial infection, allowing a buildup of fluid to press against the eardrum. Adults are more likely to get infections from swimming, injuries such a foreign body in the earor following upper respiratory illnesses. The symptoms may be milder for recurring ear infections compared to more acute forms, may come and go, and affect one or both ears.
Back to Health A to Z. Ear infections are very common, particularly in children. You do not always need to see a GP for an ear infection as they often get better on their own within 3 days.
Ear infections may be more common in children than in adults, but grown-ups are still susceptible to these infections. Unlike childhood ear infections, which are often minor and pass quickly, adult ear infections are frequently signs of a more serious health problem. There are three main types of ear infections.
Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the health care provider. The most common type of ear infection is called otitis media. It is caused by swelling and infection of the middle ear.
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear that causes inflammation redness and swelling and a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum. The main symptoms include:. In some cases, a hole may develop in the eardrum perforated eardrum and pus may run out of the ear.
People often make an immediate association between earache and ear infection. However, discomfort in and around the ear can be caused by many different problems. This guide will cover the more common reasons for an ear ache.
Skip to content. Otitis media is another name for a middle ear infection. It means an infection behind your eardrum.