The middle ear is the space just behind the eardrum. Germs can get in the middle ear and cause an infection. A middle ear infection is also called otitis media. An acute middle ear infection is one that starts quickly and causes lots of symptoms right away.
The infection makes fluid build up in the middle ear. This fluid makes the eardrum bulge and hurt. If the eardrum bulges a lot, it can pop (rupture). Symptoms include:
Rarely, ear infections can cause severe complications if bacteria spread to nearby areas, such as:
The bone next to the ear (causes pain behind the ear)
The inner ear (causes dizziness and trouble hearing)
The brain (causes headaches, confusion, and meningitis)
Doctors will look inside your child's ears with a special light. They are checking to see if:
They may need to first clean wax from your child's ear so they can see more clearly.
They may squeeze air into your child’s ear to see if the eardrum moves. If it doesn't move as much as it should, your child may have an ear infection.