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Ear Infections

Ear Infections

What is an ear infection?

An ear infection is a very common condition, affecting around 1 in 10 adults at some point in their life.

The result of bacterial, fungal or viral infection, ear infections can also be mistaken for an allergic response or eczema.

Diabetes can also make you more susceptible to developing ear infections.

If you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms, you should consult a doctor.

The condition is divided into three categories that indicate the area of the ear affected:

  • otitis externa - the outer ear
  • otitis media - the middle ear
  • otitis interna - the inner ear

We provide treatment for the first of these categories, otitis externa. The best indicator of outer ear infections is the presence of pain when the ear is touched.

Ear infections

Differences between inner, middle and outer ear infections

Inner ear infection Middle ear infection
(otitis media)
Outer ear infection
(otitis externa)
Can affect both children and adults Usually affects children Usually affects adults aged 45 to 75
Caused by viral or bacterial infections Caused by viruses like colds and flu Caused by something irritating the ear canal, such as eczema, water or wearing earplugs
Affects parts of the inner ear like the labyrinth and vestibular system, and can lead to labyrinthitis Affects the eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear (area behind the eardrum) to the back of the nose Affects the ear canal (the tube between the outer ear and the eardrum)

What causes ear infections?

Inside your ears, you have canals called ‘eustachian tubes’. These canals lead to the back of your throat. They are split into three separate chambers; the inner, the middle and the outer.

As with all orifices on your body, germs can enter into these canals, resulting in infection. Germs can be bacterial, viral or fungal.

There are a number of factors that can increase the chance of infection. These include:

  • swimming
  • living in a hot or humid climate
  • poor cleaning practices
  • skin conditions (such as eczema)
  • past infections
  • being diabetic
  • being asthmatic
  • having allergic rhinitis

We can prescribe an antibacterial medication, Otomize, for outer ear infections, otherwise known as ‘otitis externa’ or ‘swimmer’s ear’. This is the section of your ear between the outside of the eardrum to the opening of the ear.

Minimum age is 2 years old.

Otitis externa is most easily diagnosed by the presence of pain when the ears are touched or pulled. Infections of the middle and inner ear may present with different symptoms.