Brookings

Otitis Media

What is otitis media?

  • Commonly called an “ear infection.”
  • One of the most common medical conditions in children, affecting ~90% of children at some point before the age of 7.

What causes otitis media?

  • Excessive negative pressure in the middle ear due to a chronically closed Eustachian tube.
  • Pressure build up leads to a retraction of the eardrum and causes pain in the ear.
  • The pressure in the middle ear causes a build up of fluid behind the eardrum, which may become infected with bacteria.

Symptoms:

  • Acute onset of ear pain, fever, and possibly discharge from the ear.
  • Mild hearing loss or a sense of “muffled” hearing.

Treatment:

  • Acute otitis media may resolve on its own after rupture of the eardrum and draining of fluid.
  • Your physician may prescribe medication to treat otitis media.
  • Chronic otitis media may require the placement of pressure equalization tubes to relieve negative pressure and allow the middle ear space to drain.
  • In conjunction with treatment from your physician, an audiologist may monitor your hearing on a regularly scheduled basis.

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