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Alternative Names Return to topEar infection; Infection - ear
Definition Return to top
Otitis is a general term for infection or inflammation of the ear.
Causes Return to top
Otitis can affect the inner or outer parts of the ear. The condition is classified according to whether it occurs suddenly and for a short time (acute) or repeatedly over a long period of time (chronic).
Specific types of ear infection include:
Symptoms Return to top
Symptoms may include:
Exams and Tests Return to top
Your health care provider will examine your ears and use an instrument called an otoscope to look inside them. Signs that may be seen during an exam include a red, painful outer ear or redness or swelling of the eardrum.
Treatment Return to top
Treatment may include antibiotics or ear drops, depending on the suspected cause of the infection.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Most types of ear infection respond well to treatment. If there is no improvement after 3 days, your doctor may recommend a different antibiotic. In certain uncomplicated cases, a child over 6 months of age who does not have a fever may not be given medicine unless the infection continues after 48-72 hours. For more specific outlooks and recommendations, see the following articles:
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of otitis.Update Date: 12/1/2008 Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.