Ear infections may be more common in children than in adults, but grown-ups are still susceptible to these infections. Unlike childhood ear infections, which are often minor and pass quickly, adult ear infections are frequently signs of a more serious health problem. There are three main types of ear infections. They correspond to the three main parts of the ear: inner, middle, and outer. A condition diagnosed as an inner ear infection may actually be a case of inflammation, and not an actual infection.
Middle ear infections are also extremely common, particularly in children. The most common is acute otitis media which is characterised by a severe earache and high temperature, generally in a child, with associated deafness. Like an abscess, once the eardrum bursts and the pus comes out of the ear the pain eases. Happily, the eardrum almost always heals once the infection settles and the hearing also returns to normal.
Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the health care provider. The most common type of ear infection is called otitis media. It is caused by swelling and infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is located just behind the eardrum. An acute ear infection starts over a short period and is painful.
Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis are disorders resulting from an infection that inflames the inner ear or the nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain. This inflammation disrupts the transmission of sensory information from the ear to the brain. Vertigo, dizziness, and difficulties with balance, vision, or hearing may result. Infections of the inner ear are usually viral; less commonly, the cause is bacterial. Such inner ear infections are not the same as middle ear infections, which are the type of bacterial infections common in childhood affecting the area around the eardrum.