Otitis is a general term for infection or inflammation of the ear.
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:
- Otitis externa - acute
- Otitis externa - chronic
- Otitis externa - malignant
- Otitis media - acute
- Otitis media -chronic
- Otitis media - with effusion
Any of the following symptoms may develop with otitis:
- Itching or other discomfort in the ear or ear canal
- Drainage from the ear
- Hearing loss
- Ear noise or buzzing
- Malaise (feeling of general illness)
- Nausea, vomiting
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 may include antibiotics, depending on the suspected cause of the infection.
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:
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of otitis.
Reviewed By: Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.