The ear consists of three separate compartments: the inner ear, the middle ear, and the outer ear. Ear infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and can occur in any of the three ear compartments. Infection of the inner ear is called labyrinthitis. Infection of the middle ear is called otitis media. Infection of the outer ear is called otitis externa or swimmer's ear. When discussing ear infections, we are usually referring to otitis media.
In general, children are more likely to get ear infections than adults. Symptoms of otitis media include ear pain, fever, difficulty hearing, headache, irritability, tugging/pulling at an ear, and difficulty sleeping.
Otitis media often clears up on its own, so treatment usually starts with managing the pain and monitoring the infection. Infants with ear infections and severe cases of ear infection may require antibiotic medications.
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