What is Ear Infection - Otitis?
Written by Amanda Wattson, MD   
Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Otitis is an inflammation or infection of any part of the outer, middle, or inner ear.
What is going on in the body?

The ear consists of 3 parts.
- The outer ear includes the ear canal and the auricle, which is the skin flap on the side of the head.
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The middle ear contains the 3 small bones for hearing, as well as the air-filled space behind the eardrum.
- The inner ear consists of the cochlea, a bone used for hearing, and the labyrinth, which is involved in balance.

Any part of the ear can be inflamed, or irritated. Often the cause is an infection by a virus, bacteria, or fungus.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?

Causes and risks vary, depending on the part of the ear involved and the cause of the otitis. Specific information can be found under the types of otitis listed above.

What are the treatments for the infection?

Treatment varies, depending on the part of the ear involved and the cause. More information can be found under the types of otitis listed above.
What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects vary, depending on the treatment. More information can be found under the types of otitis listed above.
What happens after treatment for the infection?

More information can be found under the types of otitis listed above.
How is the infection monitored?

Some types of otitis clear up and need no further monitoring. Others may require long-term monitoring. More information can be found under the types of otitis listed above. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.