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What is an acute otitis media ear infection?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Acute otitis media is a painful ear inflammation of the middle ear. It affects mostly children and infants and is very common. In fact, most three-year-olds have had at least one ear infection. Usually a result of an upper respiratory or throat infection that settles in the middle ear, otitis media can be either viral or bacterial. Acute otitis media is mostly treated with antibiotics and while it is generally a childhood illness, it can affect adults, as well.

The type of ear infection that is usually painful and may improve with antibiotic treatment is called acute otitis (oh-TIE-tus) media, or AOM. Symptoms of AOM include pain, redness of the eardrum, pus in the ear, and fever. Children may pull on the affected ear, and infants or toddlers may be irritable. Antibiotics are often prescribed to children for AOM, but are not always necessary.

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