Conditions

Otitis media

Otitis media licensed under CC from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Otitis_media_incipient.jpg

Otitis media is an ear infection which causes fluid to build up in the middle ear, behind the eardrum, and it’s sometimes referred to as ‘glue ear’ because of the sticky mucus it generates. Not surprisingly it often causes earaches, but also headaches, problems hearing, fever and a general sense of being unwell. It’s one of the most common illnesses to affect younger kids, particularly between two and six, and ninety per cent of all children will be affected by it at some point.

Viral infection is the most common cause of otitis media, but allergy, bacteria, blockage in the middle ear and malnutrition can also trigger the condition. Your child cannot pick it through swimming or being in the bath however.

There are really two types of otitis media. The acute form doesn’t last long (up to two weeks, and often just a few days) but the symptoms are more intense. There’ll be pain in the ear and, as the body’s own immune system kicks in to fight it off, some of the sticky, pus-like liquid that has gathered in the ear will automatically be discharged, after which your child will start to feel better. In a prolonged or chronic infection the fluid remains stuck in the ear even after the infection has gone. This makes it harder to fight off new infections so it may seem as if the condition keeps returning.

Otitis media often doesn’t need treatment – it’ll clear up naturally, and it’s quite normal for kids under two to get it again within the same 12 months. If you do see a doctor, he or she may prescribe a painkiller and then wait a couple of days for the body to do the rest. If the condition keeps coming back though, your doctor may suggest a specialist. One method of treatment for recurrent ear infections of this sort is to insert a grommet into the eardrum, which will help the clear the sticky liquid which causes the pain.

Though having earache is always unpleasant for your child, the fact that it is so common shows how hard it is guard against the condition, and apart from the pain and a temporary loss of hearing during the infection itself, it does not usually leave any lasting damage.

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Hi, my son is 3 and has had 3 ear infections, which is was prescribed antibiotics for. The doctors said one of his ears has a lot of wax build up and is quite scared. I asked to be referred to a ear nose throat specialist in which they done a pressure test on his ears, they stated there was nothing wrong. His last infection was 2 months ago but complains of ear pain constantly although there is no infection, he has complained for around a year and a half now but can't seem to get to the bottom of it, he constantly rubs it and crys that both his ears hurt. What could be the problem? My doctor just gives him anti biotics but I don't see why he has constant ear pain. Thanks





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I'd find a new dr. Can you go to a ear, nose and throat specialist? My guess is the scarring is causing more issues.

hi,im 14 years old, and was born with deafness in the right ear, along with other problems(upside down ear drum). When i was 9 i had a op, to bring my hearing back... it worked.. but im going deaf again, i have also found lumps around my ear,whats wrong? I don't want to worry my parents.I was discharged from the children's hospital 2 years ago and i don't want to go back.





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MIDDLE EAR INFECTION There is a probiotic that I came across for ear, nose and throat. I read that studies of children with recurrent ear infections indicated that children taking BLIS K12 had reduced numbers of ear infection recurrences. Some published studies have shown that it is possible for BLIS K12™ to transfer from the oral cavity to the nasopharynx, which is the bacterial reservoir for ear infections. There are a few references but maybe you could check out http://blis.co.nz or http://blisk12blism18.sg.





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Hi im looking for an answer been doing research and i cant find nothing for sure i think im going to take my 9 yrs old daughter to the hospital i was cleaning her ear tonight and as i was looking in her ear to make sure it was all clean i seen something white in her ear and realized it is a cluster of bumps or bones im not sure cant really tell im freaking out can someone please tell me what they think this may be because the picture i found online that looked close to it was malassezia otitis externa in dogs please help me





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I have been In pain on the left side of my head/ear for the last two years after feeling something burst this side. I have had a CT Scan and there seems to be nothing showing on the scan causing the symptoms. Around four months ago I insisted swabs were taken and the doctors found I have had two different bacterial infections in my ear and nose. Which I was then treated with antibiotics for. The doctors think I may have glue ear/eustacian tube dysfunction in my left ear. I have a cough and been unable to clear my throat. My nose doesn't function very well, it doesn't produces any snot. I am allergic to penicillin so can only have certain antibiotics and the third lot of antibiotics I had this year has caused a rash all over my body which went down after a few days. I am currently waiting for a second ENT Consultant appointment. Is there anything I can do to reduce the frustration from the glue ear eustacian tube dysfunction? The only things I have found to help is to have a bath a couple of times a week in Epsom salts to help reduce the inflammation and to gargle with salt water and use Sterimar to clean my nose. I also find reducing the amount of dairy and sugar in my diet has also helped. I also have Bowen tecnique nearly every week and massage a couple of times a month. This helps the frustration a lot. I am 32 years old. Is there any thing else I could do?





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Hi my 12 yr old son has got a build up of wax, the doctor said to use oliv oil and cotton wool,I have done that,he has got clumps of wax coming out and it smells really bad,he also has a bad taste in his mouth,is this somethin I should be worried about.





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I am a teenager (classed as a kid) and earlier in July of this year I began to experience pain from my right ear. A while into it the pain became unbearable...I lost hours upon hours of sleep, and I ended up taken ibuprofen after 3 days. It began leaking as I slept and I would wake up with patches of yellowy liquid on my pillowcase. I found it really hard to hear and it was constantly popping and writhing in pain. I was told by my Nan that it was a clog up of wax, but I didn't go to the doctor.She also told me I may have to have it syringed out...however, it disappeared! It stopped leaking and i began to get my hearing back without any more pain! It's completely fine now! I don't know what it was, but it was gone within 8 days.





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I think you may have water in your ear not sure where though there wre to main places behind the eardrum or in the canal of the ear. It's very painful if nit treated i suggest you go see a doctor they should give you spray which goes into your ear.

i am 22 years old for the pass week or so my ear feel as if it is full with water and it pain as if someone was jucking inside with a pin i went to the doctor he give me antibiotic and a nasal drop but till now my ear still feel full although the pain has gone





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My daughter is 8 years old and has constantly sufferd with build up of ear wax and reduced hearing without pain or fever since the age of 3. I have taken her to the G.P several times and have been instructed to use ear wax remover but I am worried if this continues it will damage her hearing as she gets older what can I do next to help her.





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I think she may have glu ear. This is common in children and they should grow out of it. Go to the doctors and they well double check and give you some medicine. It shouldn't effect her hearing when she is older.

my daughter has a cough and cold and is complaining with earace both side of her ears iput have given her calpol and put olive oil in her ear am i doing the right thing she has had cold and coughs for 4 days now





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This is fine. The throat and the ears are connected and it seems that the pain has spread through to her ears. You dont really need olive oil you can give her calpol and make sure her ears are clean because sometimes when you get ear aches a lot more wax is given off due to your body trying to get rid of it's illness.


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Content supplied by NHS Choices

Otitis media is a build-up of fluid in the middle ear, the space between the eardrum and the inner ear. Read More »