Types of Ear Infections
The three main ear infections are: acute otitis media, otitis media with effusion, and otitis externa, also known as swimmer’s ear. Ear infections can be painful and may need antibiotics to heal. A physician or healthcare provider would be able to determine what type of ear infection a patient may have and if antibiotics would help.
Acute Otitis Media
- This type of ear infection is often painful but clears up quickly, once oral antibiotics are started. The symptoms of this ear infection include pain, fever, redness and pus in the ear.
Otitis Media With Effusion
- Otitis media with effusion is a build-up of fluid in the middle ear. This ear infection is more common than acute otitis media, and is usually triggered by a viral upper respiratory infection, an allergy, or an exposure to an irritant, like cigarette smoke. This type of ear infection does not warrant an antibiotic treatment and usually goes away on its own.
Otitis Externa (Swimmer’s Ear)
- Otitis externa is commonly referred to as swimmer’s ear, as it usually develops after swimming in a pool or other body of water. It is an infection of the outer ear canal. It can cause the ear to itch or become red and inflamed, so that head movement or touching of the ear is very painful. Pus might also drain from the ear. Antibiotic ear drops are usually needed to combat this infection.
According to WebMD, young children with ear infections recuperate quicker and more completely if medical providers give antibiotics immediately, instead of waiting to see if the child gets better on his own. These findings come from two clinical studies, one in the United States and one in Finland. For young children with middle ear infections (otitis media), both studies found that instant antibiotic treatment was far more effective that watchful waiting.
Symptoms of an ear infections might include pulling of the ears, drainage from the ears, fever, headaches, difficulty hearing, loss of balance and excessive crying in children.