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Causes of Otitis Media

How do you get otitis media?

  • It can happen because of bacteria or a virus.
  • Bacteria or viruses get inside the ear and cause an infection.
  • It's not contagious. That means you can't catch it from someone else.
    • But people with otitis media usually have other problems at the same time.
    • They may have a fever, sore throat or a cold.
    • These other problems can be contagious.
  • Being around cigarette smoke makes children get otitis media because smoke hurts your child's ears (Smoke is also bad for your child's lungs). Don't smoke around your child!


Some people say you can get an ear infection by going outside without a hat in the winter. But that's not true. Your child CAN'T get an ear infection that way. Only bacteria or a virus can cause an ear infection.

What are the signs of otitis media?
Otitis media with fluid may have no signs. Your child may not act like there is anything wrong. Except she may not hear you as well.

Acute otitis media usually starts out looking like a cold. Then your child gets a fever, and her ears bother her. Sometimes otitis media happens without a fever.

There are other signs too. Call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child says her ears hurt
  • Your child pulls or scratches her ears
  • You see fluid coming out of her ears
  • Your child has trouble hearing
  • Your child cries more than usual
  • Your child can't sleep
  • Your child doesn't want to eat anything
  • Your child can't keep her balance

Next: How You Can Treat Otitis Media.

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