Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the health care provider. The most common type of ear infection is called otitis media. It is caused by swelling and infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is located just behind the eardrum. An acute ear infection starts over a short period and is painful. Ear infections that last a long time or come and go are called chronic ear infections.
Skip to content. Otitis media is another name for a middle ear infection. It means an infection behind your eardrum. This kind of ear infection can happen after any condition that keeps fluid from draining from the middle ear. These conditions include allergies, a cold, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection. Middle ear infections are common in children, but they can also happen in adults. An ear infection in an adult may mean a more serious problem than in a child.
Prescribing guidelines for ear infections have changed in the last five years. Your child might not even be prescribed antibiotics. Not all ear infections are bacterial or need prescription medication. In fact, you could find all the relief you need in your home with treatments such as:. These medications can also help lower a fever.
Ear infections may be more common in children than in adults, but grown-ups are still susceptible to these infections. Unlike childhood ear infections, which are often minor and pass quickly, adult ear infections are frequently signs of a more serious health problem. There are three main types of ear infections.