An acute ear infection is an infection of the mucous membranes of the middle ear. Ear infections can be due to both viruses and bacteria, and occur most frequently during the winter months. These bacteria lie in the ear canal in front of the esophagus, and can cause eczema and inflammation.

There are various defense mechanisms that the ear naturally forms to keep them clean and prevent bacteria and infections. The protective factors are:

  • Glands that distinguish a waxy substance, ear wax or cerumen. This is usually chemically a little acidic so bacteria can not grow. It also manages to absorb dirt, dead skin cells and other waste. Therefore ear wax is important to the ear
  • The ear canal either slightly downwards from the middle ear to the outside so that water can easily drain out

Information on this page

What is the cause of an ear infection?

Ear infections often occur after a cold or throat inflammation where viruses or bacteria from the nose or throat have come up in the middle ear. The skin of the ear canal is very sensitive, and for some it is easy to cause eczema or inflammation of the ear canal. An irritation of the mucous membranes may cause them to get infected and swollen. This prevents the passage between the middle ear and the nose / throat so that bacteria and viruses remain in the middle ear, and an infection can develop rapidly. Over 50% of middle ear infections are caused by viruses. 1

Conditions that can weaken the ear’s defense and promote bacterial growth are:

  • Too much fluid in the middle ear. Reported sweat, prolonged wet weather or water that remains in the ear canal after you have bathed can create favorable growth conditions for bacteria
  • Scratches or scratches in the ear canal. If you clean your ear with a cotton swab or hairpin, or swallow the ear of the ear canal with a finger, or use headphones or ear plugs, it may cause small cracks in the skin that allow bacteria to grow
  • Hypersensitivity reactions. Hair products or earrings can trigger allergy that weakens the skin and promotes infection


There are several different symptoms you may experience with an ear infection. The most common symptom of ear infection is itching of the ear canal. You may also experience pain and if it develops into an ear canal, the pain becomes stronger and you may experience fever. Here are the other symptoms:

  • Pain in the ear (due to increased pressure in the middle ear)
  • Fever
  • Unrest
  • Transiently impaired hearing
  • Generally impaired general condition
  • Liquid flowing from the child’s ear

All symptoms do not need to be present at the same time. If you go to a doctor, your doctor can diagnose just by looking into your ear.

Treatment options

There are various treatments you can do to prevent infection in your ear. There are things you can do yourself, but if it does not help is the medical help you need.

What can you do yourself?

The best thing is to prevent ear lining and ear infections. You can do this by avoiding irritating the ear canal, eg with swabs or with hair shampoos that you are sensitive to. If you have chronic eczema then you may be allergic to something. Try to find out what you are allergic to. 2

You can also take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Your ear can get well sooner if you keep your ear canal dry and avoid poking in it.

Preventative measures against new infections:

  • Use earplugs when swimming
  • If you get water in your ears, try to get it out
  • Avoid getting shampoo in your ears
  • Do not use cotton swabs to clean your ears, it can damage the ear canal
  • If one is sleeping with the head high or in an upright position, the pressure in the ear decreases so that it causes less pain. Build your head with something hard (Books)
  • Mucosal nasal spray can ease the passage from the nose to the throat so that the pressure in the ear decreases. Available in different strengths for different age groups

Medical treatment

If it is necessary to treat the eczema, carefully clean your ear and you may receive a medicine that contains low-acting adrenal gland hormone for local use in the ear canal. Binyrebark hormone affects the swelling and pain. If there is also infection, do not use adrenal cancer hormone alone, as the infection worsens. Instead, you may use a medicine that contains an antibiotic or a fungicide, optionally in combination with adrenal gland hormone. You can not even get an ointment into the ear canal. Therefore, the doctor can lubricate the ointment on a thin gas strip, which you get stuck in the ear canal to shut off the hearing.

If you are going to be treated with ear drops, you can drip your ear while lying on the side with your ear up. Stay asleep until the ear drops penetrate the skin. The doctor may also insert a small sponge, which ensures that the drops get in the ear canal also when you travel. You must then keep the fungus moist with drops for a few days, until the doctor clears it again.


  1. Ear infections – NHS
  2. Bacterial infection – Healthline