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Types, Symptoms And Causes Of Ear Infections

Posted by rafael on February 14, 2013 in Health

During the winter months, ear infections are increasingly common – particularly amongst children. In addition to pain, discomfort or earache, an ear infection also brings with it a number of other symptoms such as hearing loss, discharge, dizziness and, in some cases, momentary periods of blurred vision. Whist these are general indications for any form or ear infection, symptoms can vary from patient to patient and will differ depending on the type of ear infection a patient is suffering from as well as its severity.

There are three types of ear infection each with their own symptoms and individual treatment methods. These types are; otitis externa, otitis meida and otitis internia.

Otitis Externa

Otitis externa, also known as external otitis or, more commonly, “swimmers ear” is one of the most common forms of ear infection and affects both the ear canal and the sufferer’s outer ear.

Signs and Symptoms

As you may expect, pain is the most common symptom of this form of ear infection and sufferers often find it painful to touch the outside of their ear. Aside to tenderness and earache, individuals suffering with otitis externa may experience itchiness around the outside of the ear in addition to discharge. As the inside of the ear swells when infected, this discharge can cause the ear to become blocked – therefor inducing temporary hearing loss.


Common causes of external otitis include;

  • –   swimming in polluted water
  • –   trapping water in the ear canal whilst showering or bathing
  • –   bone growth resulting in the narrowing of the inner ear
  • –   breaking the skin with the use of objects such as cotton wool swabs
Ear Infections

Ear Infections

Otitis Media

As the name suggests, a middle ear infection – medically referred to as otitis media – is a form of ear infection which relates to the middle of an individual’s ear. Along with otitis externa, this is the other most common form of ear infection ion both children and adults.

Signs and Symptoms

With pressure building up in the middle ear, between the tympanic membrane and the inner ear when infected, patients suffering from otitis media often experience intense pain. This infection can lead to the blistering of the tympanic membrane which, in more acute cases, can rupture – causing pus leak into the ear canal.


Common causes of external otitis include;
–   viral pathogens
–   bacterial infections
–   pathogenic fungi
–   common colds
–   influenza

Otitis Interna

The term otitis internia or internal otitis refers to the infection of the inner ear. This form of infection is commonly associated with labyrinthitis – inflammation of the inner ear

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of an inner ear infection can have more disabling symptoms that than of middle ear infections or outer ear infections.  Whilst this form of infection is rarely associated with hearing loss, individuals suffering from otitis internia often experience, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, dizziness and severe vertigo.

If you are suffering from an ear infection this winter, it is worthwhile booking an appointment at an ent clinic to discuss the best course of treatment.

By Sarah-Jayne Culver; a Search Consultant at http://www.fdcstudio.co.uk/ providing Digital Marketing Services throughout the UK

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