What are the causes of an ear infection?

Updated: Sep 16

The most common type of ear infection is a middle ear infection followed by external ear infections like Otitis externa and Otomycosis.


What causes an ear infection? Middle ear infection

What causes a middle ear infection?

The most common ear infection cause is the middle ear infection. 90% of the middle ear infections spread from the nose to the ear through the eustachian tube. What causes middle ear infection is a common cold or bacterial infection or chronic sinusitis. The secretions or phlegm from the nose travels to the back of the nose, called the nasopharynx. The middle ears open into the nasopharynx through the eustachian tube, i.e., designed to move air into the middle ear. When a person blows out his nose, it increases pressure in the nasopharynx. This pressure can push the phlegm from the nasopharynx into the middle ear through the eustachian tube.


Whether it is due to common cold or chronic sinusitis treating the primary cause or source of infection is necessary for middle ear infection. Unlike in rhinitis or the common cold, where the patient experiences inconvenience due to a runny nose, chronic sinusitis doesn't give out many symptoms and doesn't trouble the patient. Hence, the likelihood of a person treating primary infection is less in sinusitis compared to the common cold which could, in turn, make the middle ear infection worst. You can read our article "Ear pain or clogged ears with a sinus infection."


What causes an external ear infection like Otitis externa and Otomycosis?

What causes an external ear infection is infected water or external infected objects like bud, key, or pin inserted into the ear. There will always be wax formation in the ear, and it keeps coming out. While the wax is coming out at the exit point, we can experience an irritation that pushes people to remove the wax and satisfy the urge. The object used to remove the wax can contain bacteria or fungus. If this object causes trauma to the ear's skin, the bacteria and fungus can quickly enter the skin through the damage.


What causes an ear infection? What causes external ear infections like Otitis externa and Otomycosis?

Otitis externa

Otitis externa is a bacterial infection caused in the external ear. In this bacterial infection, we can experience pain and a watery discharge. Otitis externa is the second most common type of ear infection in non-humid areas irrespective of the season.


Otomycosis

Otomycosis is a fungal infection in the external ear that starts with itching, and in later stages, this itching can worsen, and pain might begin in the ear. This outer ear infection is more common in humid or coastal areas.

Please read this article to understand more about Otomycosis.

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