Otitis can be caused by bacteria or viruses.


The otitis is an inflammatory process of the ear that, according to the affected site, is divided into otitis externa (inflammation of the ear canal, the most external part of the ear) and otitis media. It is more frequent amongst the younger during summertime, because the germs and fungi in the sea and swimming-pools have an easier ride in a humid environment, causing the infection.

Otitis media is an inflammation of the middle ear, placed straight after the tympanic membrane. It can be caused by bacteria or viruses and can develop pus (besided by pain), increase of pressure and inflammation. The tympanic membrane swells up and turns red, and doesn't vibrate as it used to, causing a temporary loss of hearing. It's often connected to upper respiratory tract infections, which are more likely to occur in children because their Eustachian tube is shorter and can be a perfect habitat for bacteria and viruses.


Otitis externa can be caused by germs and the irritation of the earing canal, for instance by the contact with water polluted by bacteria (more rarely by fungi). Even a gust of cold wind may be sufficient to cause the inflammation.

Otitis media, instead, is always caused by viruses or bacteria; that is the reason why it is more dangerous and makes it necessary to fight it with antibiotics.

Amongst the most common causes of otitis: infections of upper respiratory tract (rhinitis, tonsillitis); lesions due to the earing canal scratching (e.g.: Q-tip), pimples, foreign bodies, poor hygiene.


Otitis externa shows up with ear pain, which worsens by touching the auricle. It often implies a limited hearing loss.

In otitis media, pain is always present and one can perceive a sensation of obstruction in the ear; this condition causes the individual to hear him/herself speaking. Temperature and the leakage of yellow or yellow-greenish pus can occur. In the most severe forms, the eardrum can endure more or less extensive damages (perforation and deformation). Other symptoms can occur: irritability and difficulties in eating and sleeping, malaise, fatigue and tiredness, vomit, loss of appetite, dizziness (as the ear, besides beeing responsible for the hearing, is also the organ of the balance, so that, in case of otitis, one can suffer from loss of balance), buzzing in one's ears, ear bleeding due to the eardrum rupture.

Useful expedients

In order to prevent the occurence of otitis externa it's desirable to follow some rules:

  • dry up the ears properly after swimming or bathing, trying to bring out the water flown inside by tilting one's head; use the hair dryer at low temperature and direct it towards the ear;
  • wear earplugs when swimming;
  • do not clean the ear canal with objects that may cause microtraumas.

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