Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can having an ear infection lead to meningitis?"
I have an ear infection that won't go away and I'm starting to freak out. Went to the doctor about it once but the medication she gave me didn't do squat. I heard that it can lead to meningitis if an ear infection doesn't heal? What should I do? Is it true?
Some types of ear infections, if severe enough, can in very rare cases lead to invasive infections such as cellulitis, osteomyelitis, and even meningitis. This is very rare and typically happens in people who do not have normal immune systems. I should also say that the answer to your question depends on what type of ear infection you have. If you have an outer ear infection (called otitis externa), it is treated with antibiotic ear drops. This type of infection if not treated can cause osteomyelitis (a bone infection), but rarely if ever causes meningitis. A middle ear infection (called otitis media) is the type that causes the pressure feeling in the ear can cause meningitis in rare cases. If you are still having symptoms of your ear infection, then you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can look at your ear and see if it is still infected. If it is, then different antibiotic treatments can be tried. It is possible that your ear will not be infected, but you will still have fluid behind the ear which is cause you discomfort and making it feel like the infection is still there. If this is the case, you can get medication to help relieve any congestion you have and allow for that fluid to flow out. I hope you feel better.
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