Ear Infection (Middle Ear) – Symptoms and Causes

Ear Infection (Middle Ear) – Symptoms and Causes

The middle ear is an air-filled space right behind the eardrum. It contains the tiny, vibrating bones of the ear. Just like other parts of the ear, the middle part, too, is susceptible to infections. Middle ear infections are often referred to as ‘acute otitis media.’ While children are more likely to fall prey to this infection, it is common in adults too.

Treating a middle ear infection well within time is important, as it may lead to serious complications. The first line of treatment is to mitigate the pain, which is a common occurrence in the case of middle ear infections. Antibiotics help with relieving symptoms of this type of ear infection.

To understand middle ear infections better, let’s have a look at the typical symptoms and causes of it:


It is important to note that the signs and symptoms rapidly progress, which makes it all the more important to start treatment immediately. Some typical middle ear infection symptoms are:

Among Children

  • Nagging earache is one of the first symptoms of a middle ear infection. This pain aggravates especially when lying down, because of which the affected person may not end up sleeping peacefully at night.
  • Due to the discomfort caused by the ear infection, children usually tug or pull the ear constantly. This is an indication that the child is in pain. The pain and discomfort together could also lead to fussiness and constant crying.
  • Fever, headache, and loss of appetite are common symptoms.
  • The child may also have trouble hearing and responding to sounds.
  • Along with pain, the child could experience constant drainage of fluid from the ear.

Among Adults

Among adults, too, the symptoms are similar. Ear pain, drainage of fluid from the ear, and troubled hearing are commonly noted symptoms.


An ear infection is caused by the presence of bacteria or viruses in the middle ear. Cold, flu, and allergies can lead to this infection, too, as they cause congestion and swelling of the throat, nasal passages, and eustachian tubes. Any such swelling can lead to these passages or tubes being blocked, causing fluids to build up in the middle ear.

Summing Up

If not treated in time, middle ear infections can recur and lead to serious complications such as the spread of infection, impaired hearing, speech or developmental delays or even tearing of the eardrum. Hence, it is advisable to treat it within time.