Definition Inflammation of any part of the outer, middle or inner ear.
What is going on in the body? The ear consists of three parts:
the outer ear, which includes one of the auditory canals, or the passageway that leads from the outer ear to the eardrum
the middle ear, which includes the air-filled space bordered laterally by the eardrum. It contains the three small bones for hearing.
the inner ear, which consists of the cochlea, a bone used for hearing, and the labyrinth, or the part of the ear that keeps the body balanced
Inflammation can occur in any of these parts. Inflammation of the outer ear is usually caused by a skin infection in the ear canal. Sometimes it is caused by inflammation of the cartilage around the external ear. Inflammation of the middle ear is usually a result of a viral or bacterial infection. Inflammation of the inner ear is typically viral and, rarely, a bacterial infection.
What are the signs and symptoms of the infection? The site of inflammation determines what types of symptoms develop. This is described in greater detail under the sections of acute otitis externa, chronic otitis externa, malignant otitis externa, acute otitis media, and chronic otitis media. Those interested should look up a specific type.
What are the causes and risks of the infection? More information is available under each specific type of otitis.
What can be done to prevent the infection? This depends on the part of the ear that is affected. More information is available under each specific type of otitis.
How is the infection diagnosed? Doctors diagnose otitis by examining the person and listening to the symptoms. More information is available under each specific type of otitis.
What are the long-term effects of the infection? These would be specific to the various types of otitis.
What are the treatments for the infection? These would be specific to the various types of otitis.
What are the side effects of the treatments? These would be specific to the various types of otitis.
What happens after treatment for the infection? These would be specific to the various types of otitis.
How is the infection monitored? These would be specific to the various types of otitis.
Author: Mark Loury, MD Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia Last Updated: 1/10/2001 Contributors Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request
This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice. All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.