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A middle ear infection is the result of an invasion of bacteria into the section of the ear called the middle ear. The ear includes three areas: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Sound waves travel through the outer ear, into the middle ear where they cause vibration of the tympanic membrane. These vibrations are then transmitted through the inner ear. In the inner ear, sound vibrations are converted into electrical impulses and carried by the 8th cranial nerve to the brain.
A middle ear infection can interfere with this process and result in ear pain, hearing impairment and other symptoms. Symptoms of a middle ear infection may vary between individuals in character and intensity. Complications of a middle ear infection can be serious in some cases and result in permanent hearing loss and other problems. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of middle ear infection.
There are two types of middle ear infections: acute otitis media and chronic otitis media. Acute otitis media usually follows a viral upper respiratory tract infection, such as a cold or influenza. A chronic otitis media is an ongoing middle ear infection that can occur after an acute otitis media or due to a poorly healed perforated eardrum or for other reasons.
Middle ear infections occur most commonly in infants and young children, although they can happen at any age. Certain other populations are at a higher risk for developing middle ear infections. They include people who have had recent illnesses, especially an upper respiratory infection or sinusitis. Those who have a perforated eardrum are also at risk. Going to a different climate or altitude, being bottle fed as an infant instead of breastfed, and living in a cold climate can also increase the risk. Middle ear infections can also run in families.
Diagnosing a middle ear infection begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical and ear examination. The ear is examined with a lighted instrument called an otoscope.
Making a diagnosis may also include performing a variety of hearing tests (audiometry tests). A person with a middle ear infection, especially chronic otitis media, may need to consult with ear specialists, such as an audiologist and/or otolaryngologist, in order to get a full examination, testing, diagnosis and treatment. A CT scan of the head may be done in some cases to rule out or diagnose the spread of the middle ear infection, which can cause such complications as brain abscess.
A diagnosis of a middle ear infection may be missed or delayed in some populations. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of middle ear infection.
Treatment for a middle ear infection varies depending on the specific type of middle ear infection. Treatment may include oral medications, ear drops and surgical procedures in some severe cases. For more details on treatment, refer to treatment of middle ear infection....more »
Because middle ear infections most commonly occur in infants and young children who do not yet communicate well, a diagnosis of middle ear infection may be delayed or missed. Symptoms of middle ear infection can be similar to or occur with symptoms of other conditions, such as tonsillitis, headache, tooth problems, influenza, upper respiratory infection and TMJ. ...more misdiagnosis »
The following medical conditions are some of the possible
causes of Middle ear infection.
There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor
about your symptoms.
Home medical tests possibly related to Middle ear infection:
Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Middle ear infection, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.
The first step in treating a middle ear infection is prevention. Prevention measures include using the same precautions that are recommended to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, such as the flu or colds. These include covering the mouth and nose with the elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough and washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least ...Middle ear infection Treatments
Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Middle ear infection may include:
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The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible
causes of Middle ear infection as a symptom.
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including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.
Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Middle ear infection may include these symptoms:
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Read more about causes and Middle ear infection deaths.
Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good"...read more »
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The list below shows some of the causes of Middle ear infection mentioned in various sources:
This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Middle ear infection. Of the 29 causes of Middle ear infection that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:
The following list of conditions have 'Middle ear infection' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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The following list of medical conditions have Middle ear infection or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Middle ear infection based
on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:
Medical Conditions associated with Middle ear infection:
Symptoms related to Middle ear infection:
Earache (162 causes), Ear symptoms (1999 causes), Cold-like symptoms (712 causes), Ear pain (66 causes), Chronic otitis media, Glue ear (3 causes), Cholesteatoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, Otitis externa (10 causes), Conductive deafness, Otalgia (66 causes), Sensorineural deafness (197 causes), Audiometry
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