Ear Infection - Acute

This is an infection of the middle ear that is caused by germs (bacteria or virus) and results in ear pain.




This is an infection of the middle ear that is caused by germs (bacteria or virus) and results in ear pain.



Acute otitis media (middle ear infection) is caused by germs (bacterial or viral) that settle in the middle ear. It can cause ear pain, drainage, fever, irritability and hearing loss.

  • Ear infections often occur after a cold and are most common in the winter and early spring.
  • Children have more ear infections because they have shorter eustachian tubes (tubes that connect the middle ear to the back of throat), larger adenoids and tend to get more colds.

Often ear infections are caused by a virus. People who have a virus can spread it by coughing, sneezing or touching a surface or object. Others may “catch” the virus if they breathe in the droplets or touch the infected surface, and then touch their nose or mouth. This can result in a respiratory infection, which can lead to a middle ear infection. However, ear infections themselves are not contagious.

  • Instead of complaining of ear pain, younger children may be irritable and have difficulty sleeping, loss of balance and decreased appetite. They may also tug at their ear and show signs that they are not hearing normally.
  • Ear infections can go away without specific treatment. In some cases, a health care provider may prescribe an antibiotic. Remember that antibiotics are not effective against viruses. The overuse of antibiotics can result in their losing effectiveness. In addition, antibiotics may expose people to drug-related side effects.
  • People who have frequent ear infections, or ear infections that do not go away with medication, may be referred to an ear-nose-and-throat doctor. After a thorough evaluation and examination, he or she may recommend surgery to place a tube through the eardrum to drain fluid from behind the eardrum. This is usually done as day surgery with light anesthesia.

Contact your healthcare provider if you or your child have symptoms of an ear infection.

  • If you are going to see a healthcare provider other than your primary care physician, bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries and hospitalizations).
  • Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider.
  • What is the diagnosis and what treatment are you recommending? Are there any alternatives?
  • Do I need an antibiotic? Why or why not?
  • When might I start to see improvement in the symptoms?
  • What symptoms or signs should prompt a call to you?
  • What tests are you going to do? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change the treatment plan?
  • What are the follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before the next appointment?

Make sure you understand the treatment plan, any possible alternatives and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects). If your doctor recommends the surgical placement of a tube in the eardrum, ask why this approach is necessary and what possible alternative treatments might be.

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Swimmers Ear
Sore Ear
Pain in Ear
Infection in Ear
Hearing Problems
Hearing Loss
Fluid in Ear
Ear Plugged
Ear Pain
Ear Infection - Acute
Ear Infection
Ear Hurts
Ear Drainage
Dizziness
Cannot Hear


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