Otitis media (middle ear infection)

General or Other | - Others | Otitis media (middle ear infection) (Disease)


Otitis media means inflammation of the middle ear. Many different conditions are lumped together under the term otitis media - including infections due to a number of different viruses or bacteria, or the presence of different types of uninfected fluid.

Causes and Risk factors

The presence of middle ear fluid and redness or inflammation of the ear drum is usually referred to as acute otitis media, is typically due to bacterial infection.

Chronic otitis media means long-standing middle ear fluid (with or without infection). Fluid in the ear, without signs of infection or inflammation, is usually called otitis media with effusion or serous otitis media.

Acute otitis media is usually of rapid onset and short duration. Acute otitis media is typically associated with fluid accumulation in the middle ear together with signs or symptoms of ear infection; a bulging eardrum usually accompanied by pain, or a perforated eardrum, often with drainage of purulent material. Fever can be present.

Chronic otitis media is a persistent inflammation of the middle ear, typically for a minimum of a month. This is in distinction to an acute ear infectioion that usually lasts only several weeks. Following an acute infection, fluid may remain behind the ear drum for up to three months before resolving. Chronic otitis media may develop after a prolonged period of time with fluid or negative pressure behind the ear drum.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Acute otitis media is usually diagnosed via visualization of the tympanic membrane in combination with the appropriate clinical history.

Most ear infections will clear up on their own without antibiotics. Antibiotics are prescribed for persistent symptoms. Pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, naproxen) and acetaminophen are administered for pain.


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