Symptoms, causes and treatments

Otitis: definition

Explain a brief introduction of what otitis is.

Different types of otitis and symptoms

Otitis is an infection that commonly takes place in the middle ear and is therefore known as Otitis Media. However, it can also form in the external ear canal (Otitis Externa) and deep inside the ear (Labyrinthitis).

The inflammation causes a redness or swelling to the affected part of the ear which can result in ear ache and a high temperature.

The symptoms of Otitis tend to lessen after a few days and should clear up relatively quickly. If the condition has not passed after a few days it is important to seek medical advice.

Treatments and remedies for otitits

Most ear infections get better within a few days without treatment, but if necessary, you can take paracetemol or ibroprofen to relieve some of the symptoms of Otitis Media. It has been advised that drinking a lot of fluid and eating regularly is also important.

Applying a warm wash cloth to the affected ear can help to alleviate the pain. Over-the-counter ear drops are also suitable.

Antibiotics are prescribed to treat patients with severe middle ear infections that appear to have not settled after 3-5 days. Antibiotics do not speed up the recovery process, it is used to prevent further complications.

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Causes of otitis

The symptoms of a middle ear infection develop quickly and are known to clear up within a few days. This condition is also referred to as acute Otitis Media.

The following symptoms of Otitis Media are:

  • Ear ache
  • A fever (high temperature)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

A slight loss of hearing – the reason for this will be a fluid build up in the middle part of the ear which can be referred to as ‘glue ear’.

Otitis media

Otitis Media is an inflammation or infection of the middle ear estimated to affect at least one in four young people before they reach their teenage years. Approximately 75% of cases occur in children under the age of ten. Infants between six and 15 months old are the most commonly affected, but as an adult you can also suffer from Otitis Media. Most cases pass within a few days without any need to consult your local GP, but if you or your child suffer from any other underlying health conditions or see no signs of improvement within a week, we highly recommend you contact your local GP for further medical advice.

Otitis externa or swimmer's ear

Otitis Externa is a condition that causes inflammation of the external ear canal, the tube between your outer ear and your eardrum. It is often referred to as 'swimmers ear', because a common cause is water remaining in the ear canal after swimming. With treatment, any symptoms should clear up within a few days, but some severe cases it may persist for several months or longer, despite normally only affecting one ear at any given time. 

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