We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Ear infections may be more common in children than in adults, but grown-ups are still susceptible to these infections. Unlike childhood ear infections, which are often minor and pass quickly, adult ear infections are frequently signs of a more serious health problem. There are three main types of ear infections. They correspond to the three main parts of the ear: inner, middle, and outer.
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Back to Health A to Z. Ear infections are very common, particularly in children. You do not always need to see a GP for an ear infection as they often get better on their own within 3 days. Find out about using the NHS during coronavirus. Some otoscopes blow a small puff of air into the ear. This checks for blockages, which could be a sign of an infection.
Outer ear infection (otitis externa)
Otitis externa is a condition that causes inflammation redness and swelling of the external ear canal, which is the tube between the outer ear and eardrum. With treatment, these symptoms should clear up within a few days. However, some cases can persist for several months or longer. Read more about the symptoms of otitis externa. If you have recurring episodes of otitis externa that haven't responded to treatment, your GP may take a swab of the inside of your ear.
An outer ear infection otitis externa is when your outer ear canal becomes inflamed, painful and itchy. Your outer ear canal is the tube that leads into your ear. Outer ear infection otitis externa is usually caused by bacteria. There are non-infectious causes of ear inflammation such as allergies, irritants, and skin conditions such as eczema. Trauma for example, from scratching is also a cause of outer ear inflammation.