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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What are middle ear infections?
Middle ear infections occur when the fluid that is trapped behind the eardrum, becomes infected with viruses or bacteria, causing an earache, fever and temporary hearing loss. The medical name for the condition is acute otitis media.
What are the symptoms of middle ear infections?
Middle ear infections usually develop suddenly after a cold or sore throat. Common symptoms include earache, fever, temporary hearing loss and generally feeling ill. In young children, who are unable to voice what they are feeling, symptoms …
What causes middle ear infections?
Most cases of middle ear infections start with a viral infection, such as that which causes a cold or the flu. Infection spreads from the nose and throat to the middle ear through a connecting passage, known as the eustachian tube. In turn, the eustachian …
Who gets middle ear infections?
Although middle ear infections can occur in anyone, they are most common in infants aged 6 to 12 months and in children who are starting school. Compared with adults, they have weaker immune systems and shorter, more horizontal eustachian tubes. This …
How are middle ear infections diagnosed?
Middle ear infections are diagnosed based on the symptoms and on an ear examination using an instrument called an otoscope. An infection will show as redness or cloudiness, presence of a fluid or an irregular appearance inside the ear.
How are middle ear infections treated?
In most cases of middle ear infection, the earache passes within two to three days without the need for treatment and any hearing loss fades within one to two weeks. Antibiotics are usually only prescribed when symptoms are severe or when other …
Are middle ear infections contagious?
Middle ear infections cannot be passed on from one person to another. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause the infections can be spread by breathing in droplets of fluid that have been sneezed or coughed by an infected person. Similarly, the …
Can middle ear infections be prevented?
In most cases, middle ear infections cannot be prevented. However, it may be possible to reduce the chances of catching a virus by maintaining good hygiene habits and keeping up to date with vaccinations against pneumococcal bacteria, Haemophilus …
About this article
Author: Lauren Donley BSc (Hons)
First answered: 18 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Votes: 859 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Middle ear infections