An ear infection (acute otitis media) is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections.
Ear infections frequently are painful because of inflammation and buildup of fluids in the middle ear.
Because ear infections often clear up on their own, treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring the problem. Ear infection in infants and severe cases in general often require antibiotic medications. Long-term problems related to ear infections — persistent fluids in the middle ear, persistent infections or frequent infections — can cause hearing problems and other serious complications.
April 19, 2016
- Ear infections in children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/earinfections.aspx. Accessed Jan. 11, 2016.
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- Lalwani AK. Otitis media. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 11, 2016.
- Ear tubes. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/ear-tubes. Accessed Jan. 11, 2016.
Ear infection (middle ear)