Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 5/30/2017

Ear pain is the main symptom of middle ear infection, medically known as otitis media. The pain may be accompanied by a sense of pressure or fullness of the ear. Discharge from the ear canal and fever may be present. Temporary hearing loss can result from middle ear infections, and the infection may occur in the presence of signs and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, or cough. In infants and young children, generalized symptoms like fussiness, irritability, trouble feeding, or sleep problems can sometimes be attributed to middle ear infections.

Causes of middle ear infection (otitis media)

Otitis media is usually caused by infection of ear tissue including the eardrum and tissues behind it. Streptococcus pneumoniae, Hemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Streptococcus pyogenes are the types of bacteria that cause most cases of acute otitis media in people older than 6 weeks of age. The infection can also be caused by viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).


Waseem, Muhammad. "Otitis Media." Medscape.com. May 4, 2017. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/994656-overview>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/30/2017

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