Otitis can affect the inner or outer parts of the ear. The condition can be:
- Acute ear infection. Starts suddenly and lasts for a short period of time. It is often painful.
- Chronic ear infection. Occurs when the ear infection does not go away or keeps coming back. It may cause long-term damage to the ear.
Based on location otitis can be:
- Otitis externa (swimmer's ear). Involves the outer ear and ear canal. A more severe form can spread into the bones and cartilage around the ear.
- Otitis media (ear infection). Involves the middle ear, which is located just behind the eardrum.
- Otitis media with effusion. Occurs when there is thick or sticky fluid behind the eardrum in the middle ear, but there is no ear infection.
Otitis is a term for infection or inflammation of the ear.
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Klein JO. Otitis externa, otitis media, and mastoiditis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 62.