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Ear Infection Health Center

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Cause

Middle ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses.

Swelling from an upper respiratory infection or allergy can block the eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ears to the throat. So air can't reach the middle ear. This creates a vacuum and suction, which pulls fluid and germs from the nose and throat into the middle ear. The swollen tube prevents this fluid from draining. The fluid is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria or viruses to grow into an ear infection.

Recommended Related to Ear Infection

Mastoiditis

Mastoiditis is a bacterial infection of the mastoid bone. The mastoid bone, which sits behind the ear, consists of air spaces that help drain the middle ear. When the mastoid cells become infected or inflamed, often as a result of an unresolved middle ear infection (otitis media), mastoiditis can develop. In acute mastoiditis, infection may spread outside of the mastoid bone and cause serious health complications. Mastoiditis typically affects children, but adults can also be affected. Some people...

Read the Mastoiditis article > >

Inflammation and fluid buildup can occur without infection and cause a feeling of stuffiness in the ears. This is known as otitis media with effusion.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 10, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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