May be bacterial or viral.
This is intended as a general guide. Consult a health care provider for diagnosis and for recommendations or advice.
How it Spreads
Usually follows a cold (viral upper respiratory infection).
Sometimes germs travel from the throat to the ear through a damaged Eustachian tube (connects the ear to the throat).
How to Recognize
If related to a cold, may have runny nose, cough, sneezing, or fever.
Complaints of painful ear, tugging on the ear, irritability (especially infants), trouble sleeping, and trouble hearing quiet sounds.
When it is Contagious
Not usually contagious, however if fluid is draining from the ear it may contain germs.
Always wash hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of germs.
When to Report/Exclude
No exclusion required if well enough to participate in regular activities.
May require antibiotic treatment.