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Bacteria or Virus: What Causes Ear Infection?

An ear infection can indeed be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. In viral infections, the most common cause is the common cold virus. Bacterial infections, on the other hand, are due to Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenza. This answers the query, What causes an ear infection?

Ear infections can be due to viruses or bacteria. Usually, an ear infection is caused by a virus that usually goes away on its own. A bacterial infection usually lasts longer and also requires medication to be cured.

An ear infection commonly refers to a bacterial or perhaps viral infection of the middle ear (acute otitis media). Several middle ear infections are caused by an upper respiratory infection that migrates to the ear or an allergy that leads to the blockage of fluid in the middle ear.

Infections can no doubt affect the outer ear (otitis externa) and the inner ear (otitis internal). They do involve a virus, a bacterium, and at times a fungus (in outer ear infections), and the cause as well as route of the infections differ.

Ear infections are either acute (sudden, severe, and typically short-lasting) or chronic (persistent or recurrent).

What causes an ear infection?

  • Infection: It causes inflammation of the inner ear or the nerves that connect the inner ear to one’s brain. The infections can be
  • Viral: viruses like rubella, measles, and polio cause systemic viral illnesses that can spread to the inner ear. Viral infections are indeed more common than bacterial infections.
  • Bacterial: In bacterial meningitis, the cerebrospinal fluid is infected, and the infection can spread to the inner ear.


If an affected person or someone known is exhibiting symptoms of an inner ear infection, seeking medical attention immediately helps.

Symptoms of an inner ear infection include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Vomiting.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Rapid, involuntary eye movement.
  • Ear pain headache.
  • Ear infection pus

Ear infections can indeed be caused by either bacteria or viruses.  down:

1. Acute Otitis Media (AOM): This is a sort of middle ear infection that can be caused by either a virus or even a bacterium. In fact, it often occurs alongside upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) such as colds, flu, sinusitis, and strep throat. The eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to one’s nose and throat, do play a role. When a person has a URTI, inflammation in his or her nose and throat can extend to the eustachian tubes, thus causing them to swell. This negative pressure does draw mucus into the ear lining, creating a breeding ground for infection. Common viral causes include adenovirus, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and coronavirus. Bacterial culprits include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenza, Moraxella catarrhalis, and also Streptococcus pyogenes.

Bacteria or Virus: What Causes Ear Infection?

2. Otitis Media With Effusion (OEM): This is in fact a condition that involves non-infectious fluid or mucus in one’s middle ear. It can, rather, persist for weeks. Unlike AOM, OEM does not involve an infectious agent. Instead, it does result from fluid buildup due to blockage of the eustachian tubes. The germs that are responsible for OEM are typically viruses (like influenza or Epstein-Barr) or even bacteria related to respiratory illnesses such as colds and sinus infections.

Several cases of uncomplicated AOM  do tend to resolve on their own, but if symptoms continue to persist, consulting a healthcare provider is a good way to get relief. He or she can recommend pain relief and, if necessary, antibiotics.


An ear infection is commonly referred to as a middle ear infection (otitis media). Most are caused by a virus or bacteria. Allergies and other noninfectious conditions can also cause the buildup of fluid in the middle ear. Children are, in fact, more affected than adults.

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