Middle ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses.
Swelling from an
upper respiratory infection or allergy can block the
eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ears to the
throat. So air can't reach the middle ear. This
creates a vacuum and suction, which pulls fluid and germs from the nose and
throat into the middle ear. The swollen tube prevents this fluid from draining.
The fluid is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria or viruses to grow into an
- Bacterial infections.
Bacteria cause most ear infections. The most common types are Streptococcus pneumoniae (also called pneumococcus),
Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis.
- Viral infections.
Viruses can also lead to ear infections. The
respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and
flu (influenza) virus are the types most frequently found.
Inflammation and fluid buildup can occur without
infection and cause a feeling of stuffiness in the ears. This is known as
otitis media with effusion.
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Charles M. Myer, III, MD - Otolaryngology
September 10, 2012
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