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Otitis

Ear infection; Infection - ear

Otitis is a term for infection or inflammation of the ear.

Causes

Otitis can affect the inner or outer parts of the ear. The condition can be:

  • Acute ear infection. Starts suddenly and lasts for a short period of time. It is often painful.
  • Chronic ear infection. Occurs when the ear infection does not go away or keeps coming back. It may cause long-term damage to the ear.

Based on location otitis can be:

  • Otitis externa (swimmer's ear). Involves the outer ear and ear canal. A more severe form can spread into the bones and cartilage around the ear.
  • Otitis media (ear infection). Involves the middle ear, which is located just behind the eardrum.
  • Otitis media with effusion. Occurs when there is thick or sticky fluid behind the eardrum in the middle ear, but there is no ear infection.

References

Chole RA. Chronic otitis media, mastoiditis, and petrositis. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 139.

Klein JO. Otitis externa, otitis media, and mastoiditis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 62.

Pham LL, Bourayou R, Maghraoui-Slim V, Kone-Paut I. Otitis, sinusitis and related conditions. In: Cohen J, Powderly WG, Opal SM, eds. Infectious Diseases. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 26.

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    • Ear anatomy

      Ear anatomy

      illustration

    • Medical findings based on ear anatomy

      Medical findings based on ear anatomy

      illustration

    • Middle ear infection (otitis media)

      Middle ear infection (otitis media)

      illustration

      • Ear anatomy

        Ear anatomy

        illustration

      • Medical findings based on ear anatomy

        Medical findings based on ear anatomy

        illustration

      • Middle ear infection (otitis media)

        Middle ear infection (otitis media)

        illustration

       

      Review Date: 8/5/2018

      Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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