With this condition, the middle ear becomes infected and inflamed. The middle ear is located behind the eardrum.
The Middle Ear
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Bacteria and viruses (most common) cause this condition. Common bacteria include:
Middle ear infections are more common in the winter. These factors increase your chance of developing middle ear infection:
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Most middle ear infections can be diagnosed by looking into the ear with a lighted instrument, called an otoscope.
The doctor will see if there is fluid or pus behind the eardrum. A small tube and bulb may be attached to the otoscope. This is to blow a light puff of air into the ear. The puff helps the doctor see if the eardrum is moving normally.
Other tests may include:
Pain relievers can help reduce pain, fever, and irritability. These include:
Decongestants and antihistamines are not recommended to treat an ear infection.
Myringotomy is surgery done to open the eardrum. A tiny cut is made in the eardrum to drain fluid and pus.
If you are diagnosed with an ear infection, follow your doctor's instructions.
To reduce the chance of getting an ear infection:
American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Caring for Kids
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013