Ear Infection: Causes & Symptoms

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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About 90% of American children suffer from a middle ear infection or OME (otitis media with effusion) before they even go to school, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics.

What is Ear Infection?

An ear infection or otitis occurs when any of the chambers of the ear are affected by a bacterial or viral infection. It results in ear pain due to the swelling and fluid that accumulates. Usually, outer ear and middle ear infections are more common compared to inner ear infections. In general, children are more prone to infection in the middle ear than adults.


An ear infection happens when there is fluid buildup in your middle ear due to any of the following:

  • Allergies
  • Severe colds
  • Sinus infections
  • Smoking
  • Infected or inflamed adenoids (tissue near your tonsils that trap harmful bacteria and viruses)
  • Changes in air pressure


The prominent symptoms of ear infections include:

  • Discomfort in the ear
  • Severe headaches
  • Fluid drainage from the ears
  • Problems with hearing
  • Fever
  • A feeling of pressure inside the ear
  • Irritability
  • Loss of balance
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