Otitis, or ear infection, can affect the external, middle or the inner part of the ear. Middle ear infection (otitis media) is a common form of ear infection. The “middle ear” is the air-filled part of the ear that lies just behind the ear drum. Doctors cannot normally see the middle ear, but many middle ear problems will produce changes in the appearance of the ear drum that allow an appropriate diagnosis to be made.
Ear infection can occur suddenly, leading to "acute otitis," or can last longer, as in "chronic otitis." Middle ear infections may occur following a cold or other virus, with nasal allergy symptoms, or they may develop without a known cause. Ear infections are much more common in children than adults. For that reason, most of the information on these pages is geared toward children, although the same recommendations apply to adults as well.
The Middle Ear
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