Otitis is any inflammation or infection of the ear. It can involve the middle ear (Otitis media) or the outer ear and ear canal (Otitis externa).

Otitis externa

In otitis externa the ear hurts when it is touched. A more severe form can spread into the bone and cartilage around the ear. The most common cause of otitis externa is a bacterial infection, although fungal overgrowth can appear in about 10% of patients. 

Primary treatment involves management of pain, removal of debris from the external canal, and control of edema and infection with topical medication. Otitis externa can almost always be successfully treated with topical medication.

Otitis media

Otitis media can be divided into two main types which are acute otitis media and otitis media with effusion. When an acute infection occurs the onset of infection is abrupt and usually it comes with ear pain. Fever may also be present. Otitis media with effusion is typically not associated with symptoms.

Acute otitis media is most common in young children and is related to the anatomy of the ear and immune function. Either bacteria or viruses may be involved.    

The main medical treatment of otitis media are oral antibiotics, often combined with topical treatment.