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What Are the Different Types of Ear Infections?

Noticed some pain in your ear? Or perhaps you’re feeling dizzy and sick like you might throw up at any moment. An ear infection can cause all kinds of problems with your body and your health, and lead to symptoms you might not expect.

Our ears contain the smallest bone in the body, are always working, growing, and contain a lot of complicated systems. Having an ear infection is a pain, literally. And getting it treated quickly can save you a lot of suffering.

Knowing the types of ear infections and the symptoms you have will help speed up your doctor’s visit and your recovery.


Generally, an ear infection is caused by a bacterial infection. This is almost always true for outer and middle ear infections. For middle ear infections, they are often developed due to bacteria from a cold or another respiratory issue.

Outer ear infections are due to constant moisture in the ear that helps bacteria grow. It could also develop from a cut or scratch on your ear.

Ear infections can lead to or be signs of worse medical situations. The best way to be sure you know what you’re dealing with is by going to see a doctor. Make an appointment at to get checked out and start your road to recovery.


The signs of an ear infection vary depending on the type, but there are some common symptoms to look out for. If you have pain radiating from your ear, or your outer ear looks red and swollen, you’re likely dealing with some sort of ear infection. But you may also experience things like dizziness or disorientation, and then can be from an ear infection as well.

Ear infections can be tricky to diagnose, and with a bacterial infection, you will likely want antibiotics. The best way to get effective treatment for the correct problem is to talk to a professional and let them take a look.

Inner Ear

An inner ear “infection” may not be an infection at all but be inflammation caused by another problem like meningitis. Inflammation in the inner ear can cause you to feel dizzy, experience nausea, and even cause vomiting.

Vestibular neuronitis is the technical term for inflammation of the vestibular nerve found in the inner ear. Inflammation is often caused by a viral infection, which won’t be helped by everyday antibiotics. It can cause severe and sudden vertigo, and can seriously hinder your day-to-day life.

Treatments may include taking an antihistamine and anti-nausea medication. This kind of inflammation is best diagnosed by a doctor so you can learn about the real issue.

Middle Ear

A middle ear infection develops when an infection moves into the eustachian tubes that help regulate air pressure in the ears. When they swell up, they cannot drain fluid as easily, which causes that to build up behind the eardrum.

There are several common middle ear infections you may encounter. Acute otitis media is the most common infection and often happens to children, though it can develop in adults as well.

This kind of infection can come with the feeling of pressure in your ear, pain, fluid drainage, and even a fever. You may not be able to hear as well out of the infected ear until you’re better. It is also possible to get otitis media with effusion, where the infection is gone but fluid is still trapped.

If you have a fever, you might also have infectious myringitis, which is where your eardrum is infected and creates blisters in your ear as a response. This is a very painful infection caused by bacteria or a virus, but if a fever is present it is likely because of bacteria.

Outer Ear

Your outer ear is essentially the rest of your ear from your eardrum outward. An infection in this area is called otitis external but is also often called swimmers ear. It gets this name because the cause is water that stays in your ear leading to a bacterial infection after doing something like bathing or swimming.

You could also get an infection from your ear being hurt, like from a scratch when you tried to clean your ear too roughly. If the ear is swollen, red, and painful, you likely have an outer ear infection.

More Types Of Ear Infection

While the main types of ear infections are covered above, there are a few more possibilities. Because the ear is such a complete organ, there are a lot of different parts that can have problems.

There is a bone behind the ear called the mastoid, and when it becomes infected it is called acute mastoiditis. This can share a lot of similar symptoms to other ear infections like discharge from the ear, pain, and swelling. However, it is very serious and could cause blood poisoning or even deafness.

The best way to be treated for the right kind of infection is to see a doctor and receive ear infection treatment. While you may think you know the kind of ear infection you have, you may not and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Feel Better, Heal Better, Hear Better

With all the different types of ear infections out there, you might feel more paranoid or sick than when you started learning about them. However, like most infections, an ear infection is treatable and curable.

If you have signs of an ear infection, see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment. And rest easy knowing you and your ears will be just fine in no time. If this helped you better understand the causes of an ear infection, keep reading for more helpful info.