What is otitis media?
Otitis media is infection or inflammation located in the middle
About 75 percent of children have at least
one episode of otitis media by the time they are three years of age.
Nearly half of these children have three or more infections by the time
they are age three.
Otitis media can also affect adults,
although it is primarily a disease that occurs most often in children.
What causes otitis media?
Inflammation usually begins when infections due to sore throats,
colds, or other respiratory problems, spread to the middle ear.
What are the symptoms of otitis
The following are the most common symptoms for otitis media,
however, individuals may experience symptoms differently.
Common signs of otitis media in children
- unusual irritability
- difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- tugging or pulling at one or both ears
- fluid draining from ear(s)
- loss of balance
- hearing difficulties
The symptoms of otitis media may resemble
other conditions or medical problems. Consult a physician for a diagnosis.
What are the effects of otitis
In addition to the symptoms of otitis media listed above,
untreated otitis media can result in any/all of the following:
- infection in other parts of the head
- permanent hearing loss
- problems with speech and language
Can otitis media be prevented?
Cold and allergy medications do not appear to prevent otitis
media. And, currently, there is no vaccine that can prevent the disease.
However, there are certain factors that seem to increase the chances of
otitis media developing in some children. These include:
- living in a home where cigarettes are
- nursing with a bottle while lying down
How is otitis media diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical
examination, the physician will inspect the outer ear(s) and eardrum(s)
using an otoscope. The otoscope is a lighted instrument
that allows the physician to see inside the ear. A pneumatic
otoscope blows a puff of air into the ear to test eardrum
A tympanometry, a test
that allows for air and sound to be directed into the middle ear, may also
A hearing test may be
performed for people who have frequent ear infections.
Treatment for otitis media:
Specific treatment will be determined by the physician(s) based
- patients age, overall health, and
- extent of the disease
- expectations for the course of the
- patients tolerance for specific
medications, procedures, or therapies
- patients (or familys) opinion or
Treatment may include:
- antibiotic medication
- medication for pain
- myringotomy - surgery to insert tubes to
ventilate the middle ear and keep air pressure level