The ear has three distinct parts: the outer, the middle, and the inner ear. Sound waves first travel through the outer ear, into the ear canal, and then vibrate the eardrum.
The eardrum is connected to three tiny bones in the middle ear. The vibration is passed to the cochlea in the inner ear where it is processed and sent to the brain.
An ear infection occurs in the middle ear. Normally, fluid in the middle ear drains down the eustachian tube and into the back of the throat. During an ear infection, the middle ear produces fluid that cannot be properly drained through the eustachian tube.
The build up of fluid can cause pain and temporary hearing loss, and it may lead to a middle ear infection. Otitis media is more common in children because of the length and position of their eustachian tubes. Management by a doctor is required to treat this condition.