10 doctors weighed in:
Do outer ear infections spread to the middle ear?
10 doctors weighed in

Dr. Malaika Witter Hewitt
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
6 doctors agree
In brief: Not typically
If the tympanic membrane (eardrum) is intact, it serves as a barrier that protects the middle ear from organisms which may enter the external ear canal.
If the tympanic membrane is perforated (e.g. From trauma) or surgically opened (e.g. For ear tubes), then there is a direct route for passage of infectious organisms from the outer ear into the middle ear space.

In brief: Not typically
If the tympanic membrane (eardrum) is intact, it serves as a barrier that protects the middle ear from organisms which may enter the external ear canal.
If the tympanic membrane is perforated (e.g. From trauma) or surgically opened (e.g. For ear tubes), then there is a direct route for passage of infectious organisms from the outer ear into the middle ear space.
Dr. Malaika Witter Hewitt
Dr. Malaika Witter Hewitt
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Dr. Patrick Melder
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
2 doctors agree
In brief: Unusual
The tympanic membrane (ear drum) seperates the outer and middle ear. An outer ear infection can't spread to the middle unless there is a perforation (hole) in the ear drum.

In brief: Unusual
The tympanic membrane (ear drum) seperates the outer and middle ear. An outer ear infection can't spread to the middle unless there is a perforation (hole) in the ear drum.
Dr. Patrick Melder
Dr. Patrick Melder
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Dr. David Astrachan
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Very unlikely
In order for an outer ear infection to get to the middle ear the ear drum must break open in some way.
Far more likely for a middle ear infection to lead to an ear drum perforation and the pus coming out into the middle ear.

In brief: Very unlikely
In order for an outer ear infection to get to the middle ear the ear drum must break open in some way.
Far more likely for a middle ear infection to lead to an ear drum perforation and the pus coming out into the middle ear.
Dr. David Astrachan
Dr. David Astrachan
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