What is an ear infection?
Do you know that you can get an infection inside your ear? In fact, there are several types of ear infections. The type most common in kids is called a middle ear infection. The middle ear is the part behind your eardrum
. Lots of girls get a different type of ear infection called swimmer's ear. This type affects the outer part of your ear. It is more common during the summer months. back to top
How do you get a middle ear infection?
Your nose, mouth, and ears are actually all connected to each other inside your head. Most middle ear infections occur during or after you have a cold. Just as your nose gets stuffed up with extra fluid during a cold, your middle ear can also fill with fluid. This collection of fluid is a great place for bacteria
to grow. The bacteria cause the infection. Middle ear infections are much more common in kids because it is difficult for fluid to drain from the middle ear. As you grow older, the inside of the middle ear changes and fluid can drain more easily. That makes it less likely that you will get a middle ear infection. back to top
How do you get swimmer's ear?
Swimmer's ear is different from a middle ear infection. Swimmer's ear is an infection of the canal that leads from the outside of your ear to your eardrum. Water can get in your ears when you swim. That water irritates the skin in the ear canal. Irritated skin is more open to bacteria and more likely to get infected. back to top
What are the symptoms of an ear infection?
First you have the symptoms of a cold—stuffy nose, feeling tired, achy—before the ear infection. Then your ear starts to hurt. In fact, pain is the most common symptom of a middle ear infection and it can really hurt a lot. Then you may get a fever and have trouble hearing in the infected ear.
Swimmer's ear can also be quite painful. You may have pain if you pull on your outer ear or when you open your jaw. Some girls may feel a little wobbly or off balance. Swimmer's ear is usually not associated with a cold. back to top
How can I find out if I have an ear infection?
See your health professional if you think you have an ear infection. She or he can tell if you have an ear infection by looking into your ear through an otoscope
. An otoscope is an instrument with a light that allows your health professional to see inside your ear. If you have a middle ear infection, your eardrum will look very red and may be bulging outwards because of the pus
behind it. If you have swimmer's ear, your ear canal will look red and swollen and there may be pus in the canal. back to top
How can I cure an ear infection?
Your health professional may have you take an antibiotic
drug to cure an ear infection. If you have a middle ear infection, you will need to take antibiotics (usually amoxicillin) in liquid form or pill form. You may start to feel better in a day or two, but you should still take all of the antibiotics recommended by your health professional. That's the only way you can be sure you are cured.
Swimmer's ear is usually treated with antibiotic eardrops. You will need to keep your ears dry. That means keeping your head above water for at least a week. back to top