Otitis is any inflammation of the ear. Otitis media refers to an infection that leads to the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear cavity. One cause is malfunction or obstruction of the eustachian tube, such as by allergy, enlarged adenoids, injury, or congenital abnormalities. Another cause is infection that spreads to the middle ear, most commonly from the upper respiratory tract. Continued infection may lead to accumulation of pus and perforation of the eardrum. Otitis media usually affects children under 5 years of age and may result in hearing loss. If untreated, the infection may spread to other regions of the ear and head. Treatment is with antibiotics. A tube also may be placed in the tympanic membrane to ventilate the middle ear cavity, a procedure called a myringotomy.
Otitis externa is inflammation of the external auditory canal. Infections in this region may be caused by a fungus or bacterium and are most common among those living in hot climates and among swimmers, leading to the alternate name, "swimmer's ear."
Was this article helpful?