An ear infection happens when viruses or bacteria enter the ear canal. Ear infections can cause pain and fever in children and adults.
They can be external (otitis externa) swimmer's ear, or internal (otitis media). Otitis externa, commonly referred to as Swimmer's ear, is an ear infection occuring in the ear and/or outer ear canal. This can cause itching and the ear may become so red and swollen that touch or pressure on the ear is very painful. Pus may drain from the ear. Usually, antibiotics are needed for the treatment of otitis externa.
Acute Otitis Media (AOM)
The type of ear infection that is typically painful and might improve with the treatment of antibiotics is called acute otitis media (AOM). AOM symptoms include pain, pus in the ear, redness of the eardrum, and fever. Infants or toddlers may be irritable, and children may tug on the affected ear. Antibiotic treatment is often prescribed to children with AOM, but is not always necessary.
Acute Otitis Media with Effusion (AOME)
Acute otitis media with effusion (AOME) occurs when part of the ear called the eustachian tube gets blocked by fluid. This is the tube that connects the inside of the ear to the back of the throat. Fluid can build up in the middle ear for several reasons, including a cold. With a cold, the middle ear can get filled with fluid just as the nose does - it just doesn't run out as easily from the middle ear as it does from the nose. Sometimes the fluid can become infected, which leads to AOM. After AOM has been treated with antibiotics or has resolved itself, fluid could remain in the middle ear for a month or longer before it goes away.